Annual records round-up – disposal

Judging by the queries we’ve been getting, y’all are doing your end-of-year records round-up and destruction. Hopefully the records are a little easier to manage than a herd of cows, but if you have some strays here’s some tips to help you out and the low-down on where to find all the information you need.

How to destroy

For those of you just doing the regular routine no frills disposal program, you can find all the info you need on our How to destroy records page.

This covers your pre-disposal checks, making sure you have the right authorisation in place, and endorsement from your agency’s CEO or authorised delegate for you to dispose of records.

You can also find information on what methods you can and can’t use to destroy the records and what information you need to document their disposal.

Before you destroy any records, there are things you need to check. The biggest one is making sure you have authorisation to dispose of the records (aka appropriate record class in an appropriate retention and disposal schedule).

The other main ones to check are making sure the records are no longer needed for business use (talk to the relevant team), or for any legal reason (check with the legal eagles), and no RTI or Information Privacy request is pending (whoever deals with RTI should know this).

There are other things you need to check too – you can find a list of things to check under ‘before you destroy’.

Also have a look at our advice on Records required for legal proceedings or right-to-information requests.

Disposal freezes

A disposal freeze overrides any earlier disposal authorisation given by the State Archivist. They’re usually for a defined period and are in place to stop the disposal of records that may be needed for something important. Freezes can be internal (issued by your agency’s CEO or delegate) or issued by the State Archivist.

If any records you want to destroy are covered by a disposal freeze, you’ll have to keep them until the freeze is lifted.

As of December 2017 the State Archivist has not issued any current disposal freezes. However your agency’s CEO may have issued one for some of your records. If you know of any internal freezes or think there might be one, check before you destroy anything.

Our disposal freeze page {hyperlink} covers everything about disposal freezes so take a look at that if you need more information.

Transferring records to QSA

If you have permanent value records that you don’t need for business use anymore, you can transfer them to us (yay!).

Transferring records takes a lot of planning and organisation from all of us. The first thing you need to do is figure out what can and can’t be transferred and make a list (probably check it twice too… oops switching themes, my bad!).

Anyway, before we can schedule in a transfer of records, we need a fair bit of info from you. There are also a few things you need to think about first too.

Take a look at our advice on transferring records to QSA to find out what you need to do and what information we need.

Lost and damaged records

If you notice you have stray records (aka lost) or some that have … ah… tangled in some barbed wire (damaged), there are steps you need to follow.

You need authorisation before you can destroy damaged records if they haven’t reached the end of their retention period yet in a retention and disposal schedule.

And if you can’t recover those lost strays and they really are very lost, you need to let us know.

You can find advice on what to do and how to apply for authorisation to destroy damaged records or notify us of any lost records on our lost and damaged records page.

To destroy or not to destroy?

Now you might be wondering how you know if you can destroy records this year. Well, you need to sentence records against a current schedule to find out how long they need to be kept and whether or not they’re due for destruction this year.

Just like mustering cattle, you need to know what’s going where. What’s going back to pasture (storage), what’s going to records storage in the sky (to be destroyed), and what’s going to another farm (transfer to QSA).

Check out our blog post on sentencing records when that comes out.

More information

There is (of course) a whole lot more information on the website and Records Connect about other recordkeeping issues that we haven’t mentioned here. If you’re herding other types of records, or tackling other chores around the place, remember to take a look at our advice and resources and let us know if you need a hand.


There are quite a few resources on the website you can use to help you through the destruction process. Here are the main ones:

That’s all folks! Any questions let us know. And if you don’t like those cow puns, I have plenty of udders…

Research Officer

Featured image: Farm, barn, steam thresher, stud cows. Canning Downs station, near Warwick. 1894. Digital image ID 25500

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