New advice

Eligibility to join a Commonwealth superannuation scheme disposal freeze

The Archives, in consultation with the Department of Finance, has extended the disposal freeze on selected personnel and superannuation records that relate to Cornwell-type superannuation claims until 31 December 2030.

Records retention notice for records related to the use of AFFF fire suppressants

On 6 October 2015 the Director-General of the National Archives of Australia issued a targeted Records retention notice concerning records relating to the use of Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) used to fight liquid hydrocarbon fires.

General Records Authority 31 (GRA 31)

General records authority 31 for Destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration (GRA 31) has been revised as of October 2015. The authority allows destruction of many original records after they have been copied, converted, or migrated. The revised version has several changes from the 2012 version.

General Records Authority 36 (GRA 36)

This authority covers Contracts Under Seal or Deeds (also known as deeds under seal, speciality, or speciality contracts). It sets out the retention and destruction requirements for contracts under seal or deeds of Australian government agencies.

Keep, destroy or transfer

Decide what to do with your records and take action

Once records are no longer needed for business, you need to decide whether they should be kept, destroyed or transferred. Keeping, destroying or transferring records to the National Archives or out of Australian Government custody or ownership is regulated by Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983.

Records can either be:

  • kept in your agency for continuing business use
  • destroyed or deleted if they have no business use and do not need to be kept
  • transferred to another agency or to the Archives.

The Archives Act indicates the ways in which agencies may keep, destroy or transfer records:

  • Your agency can destroy records with the permission of the Archives by using records authorities which relate to agency-specific business.
  • Your agency can also use general records authorities. General records authorities cover business performed by many agencies. An example is the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority, which covers common administrative business. The Archives prepares and issues both agency-specific and general record authorities.
  • Your agency can apply a normal administrative practice (NAP). NAP makes it easier for agencies to dispose of many low-level records of short-term value. Records can be routinely destroyed using a NAP if they do not provide evidence of agency business and do not form part of its corporate records.
  • Your agency may operate under specific legislation which requires the destruction of particular records.
  • Your agency must not destroy records covered by a disposal freeze or records retention notice issued by the Archives.
  • Your agency may need to keep ‘retain as national archives' (RNA) records in its custody for ongoing business purposes. The Distributed Custody Policy sets out the conditions and arrangements under which RNA records may be held by institutions other than the Archives.

What is Sentencing?

Sentencing is the process of using a Records Authority or General Records Authority to decide whether to keep, destroy or transfer a record.

What to do in case of unauthorised destruction of information

The National Archives takes any suggestion of the inappropriate destruction of information and records seriously. If you discover any instances where information may have been destroyed or disposed of without appropriate authorisation, you must advise the National Archives through the Agency Service Centre. For more information see the new advice on What to do in cases of unauthorised destruction of information.

When should records be transferred to the Archives?

The process of transferring records to the Archives can occur once you have identified records to be preserved and managed as national archives. For further advice, contact the Archives' Agency Service Centre.

When should records be transferred?

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2016