Launch of new eLearning modules

A speech given by Ian McPhee, Auditor-General of Australia in Canberra on 21 November 2014

I was delighted to be asked by David Fricker, the Director-General of the National Archives to launch the records management e-learning modules
– designed for employees and contractors working for Australian Government entities to understand their day to day records management responsibilities.

There is much more to effective record keeping in the public sector than we might imagine at first blush. There is a range of statutory requirements that we must observe. There are tricky questions about 'what is a record?' – for example are spreadsheets, photos and tweets records? And, once we understand the scope of what are records, and our obligations in relation to them, there are some strategic decisions that entities need to make about their systems and procedures to efficiently deliver on their responsibilities. These are important responsibilities that reside with all public sector entities.

But let us bring the underlying requirements to life. Amongst other things, they are designed to:

  • allow us to readily source required information
  • protect personal information from disclosure
  • provide evidence of activities undertaken by entities and to demonstrate accountability for their actions
  • ensure that we are able to pass to the Archives those 5-8% of records that should be kept for posterity.

As you will appreciate, there is a substantial public interest element in entity responsibilities here, as well as an obligation to discharge their responsibilities efficiently.

The National Archives has for many years promoted sound record keeping by public sector entities. It is to be applauded for its work here. Alas our audit activity shows there is still more to be done by public sector entities – more awareness raising, more education and a greater focus on solutions to existing systems and procedural issues.

To provide a positive stimulus for further improvement by the public sector, Archives has now developed two new e-learning modules, which are the focus of this launch today:

  • Legal requirements: managing digital information and records; and
  • Keep it or delete it: making good choices about information.

This launch also provides an opportunity to raise awareness of other e-learning modules launched previously:

  • Introduction to digital records, and
  • Keep the knowledge – make a record.

These modules are a great initiative:

  • they offer essential records management training in a user-friendly and interactive format
  • staff can undertake the training at their own pace and when it is convenient to do so
  • the modules also assist individual staff and entities to assess competency and provide an opportunity to explore topics like 'what is a record?'
  • offer a cost effective delivery option for training; and
  • are in harmony with the Digital Transition Policy, which expects records created after 2015 to be transferred to Archives in digital formats.

Importantly, the modules allow entities the opportunity to raise the awareness of public sector staff about the importance of record keeping, and some of the key considerations involved. We all need to move with the times and change some of our old habits and the e-modules help us here.

I congratulate the National Archives, its Director-General, David Fricker, and everyone involved in the development of these modules, in leveraging Archives knowledge and experience for the benefit of the public sector and, in turn, for the benefit of the community and, indeed, generations to come.

I am very pleased to launch these e-modules today.

Thank-you

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017