Records Management Policy


Reference Authority:  Vice Chancellor

Cross References:


Good records management is a key element of good governance. Records are vital ingredients in the support of the University's ongoing business activities. The University is committed to managing its records of continuing value appropriately and to their timely transfer to the State Records Office.

The State Records Act 1997 (the Act) governs the obligations and responsibilities of agencies, including universities, in relation to the management of official records.  Under the Act, the University has an obligation to maintain official records in its custody in good order and condition.  This includes obligations in relation to the capture, storage, maintenance and disposal of physical records as well as records in electronic format.

The establishment of an effective and efficient records management environment ensures standardisation, protection, reliability and retrieval of information, thus improving the quality of customer service and compliance with legislative requirements.


This policy applies to all university business, including electronic business.  It concerns records which are created, collected, processed, used, archived, stored and disposed of in the conduct of university business.

The Policy applies to all University employees, adjuncts, volunteers, trainees, people on work placements, independent consultants and contractors and other authorised personnel offered access to University resources.

This Policy applies to all university corporate recordkeeping systems.


For the purpose of this Policy the following definitions apply:

Archives – Records relocated to long-term storage for preservation beyond their immediate business function, including permanent records

Continuing Value – Records of continuing value are those that contain information that is of administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential or historical value to the University

Disposal – to dispose of an official record means to:

  • Destroy or abandon the record or
  • Carry out an act or process as a result of which it is no longer possible or reasonably practicable to reproduce the whole or a part of the information contained in the record or
  • Transfer or deliver ownership or possession of or sell the record.

General Disposal Schedule (GDS) – A GDS is created by State Records. There are 2 separate schedules that are use by the University.

  • GDS 15 applies to general administrative records created and maintained by State Government Agencies of South Australia.
  • GDS 24 applies to South Australian universities and covers their operational functions.

 A GDS is used to determine the retention status of records.

Record – A record is any written, graphic or pictorial matter, or a disk, tape or other object that contains information or from which information may be reproduced (with or without the aid of another object or device).

  • Ephemeral/Transitory Records – A record is transitory or ephemeral in nature if it is of little or no continuing value to the University and only needs to be kept for a limited or short period of time, such as a few hours or few days. Ephemeral or transitory records may include drafts and duplicates.
  • Official Record – A record made or received by University in the conduct of its business, but excluding:
    • An ephemeral or transitory record
    • A draft that is not for further use or reference
    • A record that is part of the collection of a library, museum or art gallery and is not otherwise associated with business or the agency
    • A record delivered to another person or body (other than an agency as defined under the Act)
    • Commonwealth records as defined by the Archives Act 1983 of the Commonwealth, as amended from time to time, or an Act of the Commonwealth enacted in substitution for that Act
    • A record that has been transferred to the Commonwealth.
  • Permanent Record – A record that needs to be retained permanently as it has been identified under the Act as a record of significant value.

The Records Manager provides advice about the status of records.

Retention Status – Is defined by the appropriate GDS and is the length of time that a record needs to be retained.

University Business – Includes the provision of services, delivery of programs, development of policies, making decisions, performance of  university functions and other similar types of transactions consistent with university roles, functions and powers set out in sections 5 and 6 of the University of South Australia Act 1990. It does not include transfer or delivery of records to State Records or between the University and another agency.

University staff – In the context of this policy ‘University staff’ includes University employees, adjuncts, volunteers, trainees, people on work placements, independent consultants and contractors and other authorised personnel offered access to University resources.

1.    Policy

1.1.  Legislative Framework

University records must be managed in accordance with the State Records Act 1997, under the act the university is legally obliged to create and maintain records that document the business activities and transactions of the university.

The university needs to be accountable to the Government and to the public for their decisions, actions and dealings. Under the State Records Act 1997 agencies need to be committed to good record keeping practices to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

University records are subject to other legislation, such as the Freedom of Information Act 1991, and legal processes, such as discovery and subpoenas.  University records may also be required by Royal Commissions, the Ombudsman, the Courts, auditors and other people or bodies to whom or which they may be subject.

1.2.  Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Vice Chancellor – The Vice Chancellor of the University, as prescribed by Section 16 of the University of South Australia Act 1990, is responsible for the management and administration of the University. As a result the Vice Chancellor has a duty to ensure that the University complies with the requirements of the State Records Act 1997 and any regulations in respect of State Records where the University is responsible.

Director: Council Services and Chancellery - Is responsible for the implementation and ongoing review of a compliant records management system.

Records Manager – is responsible for:

  • Developing records management policies and procedures for University as a whole
  • Establishing corporate standards for records management
  • Measuring performance of the University against these standards
  • Providing consulting services to University staff as required
  • Ensuring that staff receive appropriate record management induction and ongoing training and review
  • Working with relevant staff to develop and maintain records management systems and practices across the University
  • Developing and communicating corporate electronic records management strategies
  • Working with other stakeholders to ensure that records management systems support organisational and public accountability
  • Providing reports and information on records management practices to the Director: Council Services and Chancellery

University Staff - Each member of staff within the University is responsible for records creation and management and must:

  • Ensure that all incoming and outgoing correspondence is captured according to this policy
  • Maintain full and accurate records of all University activities for which the employee is responsible
  • Create records that document all decisions made in the service of the University
  • Create records that summarise important conversations, whether face-to-face, or by telephone or other electronic means
  • Capture all University official records that are created or received as part of your duties
  • Handle paper records with care and return them safely to Records Management staff when no longer required as active records
  • Protect sensitive records in their custody from unauthorised access
  • Not destroy official records (as defined by the Policy) without authorisation from the Records Manager
  • Not intentionally damage, alter, dispose of or remove official records of University without authorisation to do so.

1.2    Electronic Records 

Electronic Records are to be captured and maintained by preserving their structure, context and content.  In order to maintain their value as evidence, electronic records must be inviolate.  That is, they cannot be altered or manipulated for as long as they are retained.

1.4  Confidential Records 

University staff should contact the Records Manager if they have questions on the confidential nature of records. The Records Manager is responsible for determining if a record is of a confidential nature.

1.5  Destruction

Official records must be disposed of in accordance with the relevant general disposal schedule

Transitory or ephemeral records may be destroyed in accordance with normal administrative practice

Records that are official University records and are not ephemeral or transitory may be destroyed only by the Records Manager or by University staff with the approval of the Records Manager.  University staff should contact the Records Manager for assistance with the destruction of relevant records.