Your agency needs to be aware of the legislation governing its information and records management practices. Information and records management requirements may be specified in the legislation that established your agency or in specific legislation which your agency is responsible for administering.
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives individuals the legal right of access to government documents. It applies to Australian Government ministers, departments and most agencies. It allows individuals to see what information government holds about them, and to seek correction of that information if they consider it wrong or misleading. FOI enhances the transparency of policy making, administrative decision making and government service delivery.
The Privacy Act 1988 is an Australian law which regulates the handling and protection of personal information about individuals. This includes the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information, and access to and correction of that information.
The Evidence Act 1995 defines what documents, including records, can be used as evidence in a Commonwealth court. All agencies need to take account of evidence legislation as a court may need to examine records as evidence of an organisation's decisions and actions. For general advice on the impact of the Evidence Act, refer to the publication Commonwealth Records in Evidence (pdf, 418kb)
The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 encourages online business by ensuring that evidence of electronic transactions is not invalidated because of its format. This Act does not authorise the destruction of any Australian Government records, whether originals or copies. Each agency has an obligation under the Archives Act 1983 to preserve and dispose of all Commonwealth records.
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) governs the proper use and management of public resources. This includes Commonwealth records which under the Archives Act 1983 are the property of the Commonwealth and therefore constitute public resources.
The Crimes Act 1914 outlines crimes against the Commonwealth, including records. Section 70 prohibits public servants or anyone working for the Australian Government, including contractors and consultants, from publishing or communicating information which they gain access to through their work unless they have permission to do so. It is an offence for someone to intentionally destroy documents that they know may be required as evidence in a judicial proceeding.
Some of these legislative requirements apply to many agencies. For example, occupational health and safety legislation requires an organisation to keep certain types of records for prescribed periods of time.
Requirements that apply to all agencies are listed under the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority