In our continuing series on reducing paper mountains, we bring you some advice about disposal.
As part of your disposal activities, you will need evidence that lawful disposal of your public records has taken place and was endorsed by your CEO or authorised delegate. You can get the endorsement in whichever format works for your agency, i.e. memo or email. This evidence is needed, for example, the records may be required for a court case and you can show the courts that records have been lawfully destroyed. Or, if your agency is being audited and an auditor is looking for particular records or some of your agency records are required for a commission of inquiry.
When you are documenting disposal this is the minimum you need to include:
To help you with this documentation, see our infosheet on Reducing paper mountains – you’re almost at the top.
If you are transferring records to another agency after a machinery-of-government (MOG) change, check out our MOG webpage on what you need to do.
If your paper records are registered in an electronic recordkeeping system, you should be able to get this information by generating a report about the records that are ready for destruction. If your paper records are not registered in an electronic recordkeeping system, you can create a way of capturing this information, e.g. Excel.
How records are described will depend on the levels of risk acceptable to your agency and the level of detail required to adequately explain what is being destroyed. Low-level risk records, e.g. timesheets, you can note ‘timesheets’. For high-level risk records, e.g. workplace health and safety incident reports, you will need to provide more information such as the person’s name and specific file details.
The endorsement and evidence of the records that have been destroyed should be kept on your agency’s disposal file. These need to be kept permanently in your agency (QDAN249 v.7 8.4.2).
Some agencies use pre-approvals for destruction, e.g. for timesheets. If this is your practice, make sure you check that the retention period remains the same, particularly when a new schedule has been released and the CEO or authorised delegate is still the same.
How do you compile the list of records for destruction? Do you have pre-approval for the disposal of any records?
In future, we will bring you some case studies about agencies that have already scaled a paper mountain. Do you have a case study that you want to share on how you have reduced your paper mountains? Do you have any other helpful tips that could help other agencies? Share your stories here.
Featured image: Extract from a list of Italian immigrants arriving in Brisbane, on the ship Jumna, 7 December 1891, Image ID: 6387