Public Records is a term which covers all information created, sent and received both physically and digitally by Victorian public sector employees in the course of carrying out the business of the Agency.
Public Records Office Victoria (PROV) and Agencies are required to collect and preserve relevant public records to fulfill responsibilities as outlined in the Public Records Act 1973.
There are many facets to this process and involves individuals within PROV and Agencies at all levels, from CEOs to volunteers. The PROV's Getting Started page is a great place for agencies to understand their duties under the Act.
All records created by agencies are appraised, and only records that demonstrate continuing value to the Victorian Government and the community are retained as State Archives. Minimum retention periods apply to public records and a strict archival system is adhered to in order to preserve the various formats that public records take. More information on the appraisal of records can be found HERE.
Once a set of records which is no longer required by an agency for day-to-day business has been appraised, the agency will need to decide on one of four options (all defined as 'disposal'):
Transfer to PROV to be preserved as State archives
Transfer to another agency
Storage by the agency, pending destruction or transfer
Processes for any of these options are strictly governed under the Act and agencies should take care to follow the Disposal Standards created by PROV.
The PROV website has a comprehensive section for Government Record Keeping where you can view information about processes, frameworks, standards and policies as well as access forms, guidelines and contact details.
You can also use the dedicated Contact Form to get advice directly from the Government Services team at PROV.
A transfer to PROV can take place once records have been appraised as permanent under a Retention & Disposal Authority and are no longer needed for regular business use by the agency.
These Guides will assist in the transfer of both physical and digital records to PROV or one of their approved Places of Deposit (POD). PROV, in consultation with the agency, will determine where records will be stored - regardless of where the agency is located, all RDA and transfer processes must be conducted with PROV (who will involve BRAC at the necessary stage if required).
Information that will help you include PROV's Transfer of Records from Agency to Public Records Office page, and the transfer process outlines for Physical and Digital records.
Sometimes administrative changes (amalgamations, privitisations, departmental disbandment etc) will require records to be transferred to another new or existing agency. Transfer of custodianship guidelines exist in this instance and can be read HERE.
When an agency opts to place records in storage pending any of the three long-term processes, there are still requirements under the Act for appropriate storage, management and planning. Refer to PROV's Records Keeping Standard for more detail on agency requirements.
This option may include storing records with a commercial provider. Information on this approach, including a list of Approved Public Records Office Storage Suppliers (APROSS) can be found on their website.
Agencies should be aware that it is unlawful to remove, sell, damage or destroy public records without the authority of the Keeper of Public Records - this applies to records in all formats including databases and cloud storage. Penalties can be applied if public records are unlawfully disposed of.
When allowed by the Keep of Public Records, agencies should follow the PROV Destruction Guidelines for undertaking destruction of public records.