Disposing of information

Regular authorised disposal will reduce the costs of storing and managing information and records no longer required for business or other purposes.

Disposal of a Commonwealth record according to the Archives Act 1983 means:

  • its destruction
  • the transfer of its custody or ownership, or
  • damage or alteration

This includes the physical destruction of paper records; deleting email, documents or other data from business systems; the transfer of records to another agency as the result of machinery of government changes; or transfer to the National Archives.

Under Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983 disposal of records can take place if it is:

  • approved by the National Archives
  • required by another law, or
  • a normal administrative practice (NAP) that the Archives approves of.

Approval from the Archives is normally provided through records authorities. Records authorities are used in the process of sentencing to make decisions about keeping, destroying or transferring particular information and records. Short term or low value information that is not needed for your agency's business, for accountability or other purposes can be disposed of using NAP. Section 26 of the Archives Act 1983 prohibits altering records that are over 15 years old without authorisation from the National Archives.

Occasionally the National Archives suspends its disposal permissions by issuing a records disposal freeze or retention notice. These override existing records authorities and prohibit the destruction of records related to certain events or circumstances until the freeze is lifted or the notice withdrawn.

More information

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019