Legislation and standards

All information that you create, use or receive in the course of your job is subject to various legislation and standards requirements and you need to manage it according to its value.
You need to be aware of the legislation governing your agency’s information and records management practices and responsibilities and the standards for the creation and management of records.


If you are responsible for managing information and records in a government agency, then you need to be aware of the legislation requirements relating to creating and managing records.  There are different laws which affect how Australian Government agencies create and manage their records.  Some laws are relevant to most government agencies while others are agency specific.

The Archives Act 1983

The Archives Act 1983 is the legislation that determines what and how information and records are to be managed. It is the legislation that established the National Archives of Australia and its functions.

The Archives Act 1983 gives the Archives the power to preserve the archival resources of the Australian Government – those records designated 'national archives'. Under the Act, it is illegal to destroy Australian Government records without permission from the Archives unless destruction is specified in another piece of legislation or allowed under a normal administrative practice.

The Act also establishes a right of public access to non-exempt Commonwealth records in the 'open access period' (transitioning from 30 years to 20 years over the period 2011 to 2021 under amendments to the Act passed in 2010).

Different open access periods exist for:

  • Cabinet notebooks (transitioning from 50 years to 30 years over the period 2011 to 2021)
  • records containing Census information (99 years).

Other legislation

There is other legislation you need to be aware of for creating and managing information and records for your agency.


There are a number of Australian and international standards which relate to information and records management. These standards set the benchmark for your agency to assess its records management systems and practices.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2016