What records do I need to keep?


We recognise that a lot of our customers struggle with putting the requirements of the Public Records Act 2002 into practice. We think that the most challenging part is actually working out what a record is in the first place! For us, it’s even more challenging to find new and exciting ways of communicating this to our customers.

During a recent partnership with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC), we decided to develop a tool that would help make the process of identifying records easier, so we asked ourselves the question – how DO you know what records you need to keep? After much discussion, we decided that it came down to this:

The records you need to keep are those that provide evidence of your business activities and help you do your business now and in the future.

It sounds simple, but we know that this can be difficult to apply in the real world – so we’ve tried to make things easier with our What records do I need to keep? diagram. We’ve tried to keep things simple by reducing the criteria for knowing what records to keep down to four key areas – if you answer yes to any of these four questions, you need to keep that record!

  • Does it capture a decision?
  • Does it capture action taken?
  • Did I receive it or have to create it because of a legal requirement?
  • Is it a significant draft? (check out the diagram to see more about what ‘significant’ means)

We’ve also developed a word version of our diagram – it’s fully editable and we hope that you’ll use it in your own organisations to make it relevant to your own business. Some public authorities have suggested giving a different cheat sheet to each area of the organisation (like Finance, HR or a specific project). Simply change the title (i.e. What HR records do I need to keep?) and include your own examples – we’d love to know how it goes and if it works for you!

Now, over to you – would you agree that one of the most challenging parts of recordkeeping is actually knowing what records you need to keep?

Nicole Hannan

Policy Officer

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