General Records Authority 41
Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations
This is an accurate reproduction of the authorised records authority content, created for accessibility purposes
The National Archives of Australia (National Archives) has developed this records authority to set out the requirements for keeping or destroying records relating to Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations. It is in response to the recommendations outlined in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
This records authority sets out those records that need to be retained as national archives and specifies the minimum length of time that temporary records need to be kept. This records authority gives agencies permission under the Archives Act 1983, for the destruction of the temporary records described after the minimum retention period has expired. Retention periods for these temporary records are based on: an assessment of business needs; broader organisational accountability requirements; community expectations; and specifically to ensure that relevant records are available for survivors of child sexual abuse.
As changes in circumstances may affect future records management requirements, this authority may occasionally be amended by the addition of new classes and the variation of existing classes. The National Archives will notify agencies of any such changes.
Application of this Authority
- At the date of authorisation, this authority supersedes classes in general records authorities and agency specific records authorities for records covered by this authority, except where the retention periods in agency specific authorities are greater than those identified in this authority.
- It is expected over time as agencies review and update their agency specific records authorities, this general records authority will eventually be superseded. Agency specific records authorities can accommodate more customised requirements and future records authorities may accordingly result in more appropriate retention periods or clearer records descriptions. Please contact the National Archives before commencing a records authority review.
This authority will be periodically reviewed to determine if it should be superseded based on a determination of comprehensive coverage in agency specific authorities with the first review to occur within 15 years of the date of authorisation.
- The following definitions are used in this records authority:
Child is anyone being below the legal age of majority in Australia, which is 18 years of age.
Child sexual abuse is any act which exposes a child to, or involves a child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards. For a full comprehensive definition refer to the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Volume 1, page 19.
Care refers to the services provided (including under contractual or outsourcing arrangements) for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone who may be the responsibility of, under the direct supervision or in the custody of a Commonwealth institution.
- All attempts have been made to use language that is not offensive to survivors of child sexual abuse.
- This authority should be used in conjunction with record authorities issued to agencies for their core business and other general records authorities issued by the National Archives (in accordance with note 1) such as:
- the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) and/or AFDA Express issued by the National Archives to cover business processes and records common to Australian Government agencies;
- General Records Authority (31) for source (including original) records that have been copied, converted or migrated.
- This records authority is to be used to determine how long records must be kept. Records are matched to the relevant core business and records class in the records authority:
- Where the minimum retention period has expired and the records are not needed for agency business they should be destroyed as authorised in this records authority.
- Records that have not reached the minimum retention period must be kept until they do.
- Records that are identified as Retain as National Archives (RNA) are to be transferred to the National Archives for preservation.
- The Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) provision of the Archives Act 1983 gives agencies permission to destroy certain records without formal authorisation. This usually occurs where records are duplicated, facilitative or for short-term use only. NAP does not replace arrangements agreed to in this authority but can be used as a tool to assist in identifying records for destruction together with an agency's records authority or authorities. The National Archives recommends that agencies develop and implement a NAP policy. Advice and guidance on destroying records as a normal administrative practice and on how to develop an agency NAP policy is available from the National Archives' website at www.naa.gov.au.
- Records that are reasonably likely to be needed as evidence in a current or future judicial proceeding or are subject to a request for access under the Archives Act 1983, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or any other relevant act must not be destroyed until the action has been completed.
- Records subject to a disposal freeze must not be destroyed until the freeze has been lifted. This includes the disposal freeze on the records required for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Further information about disposal freezes and whether they affect the application of this records authority is available from the National Archives website at www.naa.gov.au.
- Where the method of recording information changes (for example from a manual system to a digital system, or when information is migrated from one system to a new system) this records authority can still be applied, providing the records document the same core business. The information must be accessible for the period of time prescribed in this records authority. There is a need to maintain continuing access to the information, including digital information, for the periods prescribed in this records authority or until the information is transferred into the custody of the National Archives.
- In general retention requirements indicate a minimum period for retention. Agencies may extend minimum retention periods if there is an administrative need to do so, without further reference to the National Archives. Where an agency believes that its accountability will be substantially compromised because a retention period is not adequate, please contact the National Archives for review of the retention period.
- Records in the care of agencies should be appropriately stored, managed and preserved. Agencies need to meet this obligation to ensure that the records remain authentic and accessible over time. Under Section 31 of the Archives Act 1983, access arrangements are required for records that become available for public access including those records that remain in agency custody.
- Appropriate arrangements should be made with the National Archives when records are to be transferred into custody. The National Archives accepts for transfer only those records designated as national archives.
- Advice on how to use this authority is available from your agency's records manager. If there are problems with the application of the authority that cannot be resolved, please contact the National Archives.
For assistance with this authority or for advice on other information management matters, please contact National Archives' Agency Service Centre.
Person to whom notice of authorisation is given:
Heads of Commonwealth institutions under the Archives Act 1983.
Authorises arrangements for the disposal of records in accordance with Section 24(2)(b) of the Archives Act 1983.
Determines records classed as 'Retain as national archives' in this Records Authority to be part of the archival resources of the Commonwealth under section 3C of the Archives Act 1983.
All records relating to Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations
This authority gives permission for the destruction, retention or transfer to the National Archives of Australia of the records described. This authority will apply only if these actions take place with the consent of the agency responsible for the business activities documented in the records.
Acting Assistant Director-General
National Archives of Australia
11 October 2018