News – Release of guideline and disposal authorisation for records relating to vulnerable persons

On 27 March 2020, the State Archivist:

The release of this guideline and disposal authorisation revokes the disposal freeze for all records which are relevant to, or may become relevant to, an allegation of child sexual abuse that was released on the 1 June 2018.

This guideline and disposal authorisations apply to ALL Queensland public authorities, including paid staff, volunteers, visitors, contractors and outsourcing arrangements, as well as public authorities that infrequently interact with vulnerable persons.

They were developed in response to and takes into account the:

  • recommendations 8.1 – 8.4 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RCIRCSA).
  • anticipated recommendations from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety
  • requirements of the recently introduced Human Rights Act 2019
  • changes in relevant legislation such as the Civil Liability Act 2003, Limitation of Actions Act 1974 and Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002.

The release of this advice follows extensive consultation undertaken by QSA over the past several months, resulting in an unprecedented level of feedback to the various exposure drafts.

Queensland public authorities indicated overwhelming support for this work with 89% of authorities who provided feedback in round 2, regarding the guideline as providing sufficient information and practical tools for them to implement.  The support for the retention periods was even greater with 94% of authorities agreeing these were sufficient to protect these records.

Over the coming weeks, QSA will be preparing additional material to assist public authorities implement the guideline and disposal authorisations.

To ensure a consistent approach to implementing the advice, related sectors (e.g. education, health, local government etc.) are encouraged to establish working groups to develop a ‘playbook’ of common interactions and record types that are specific to your circumstances.

Background information

As recognised by former RCIRCSA Commissioner Bob Atkinson, recordkeeping had a significant impact on those with lived experience of institutional child sexual abuse with the past recordkeeping practices of many organisations failing the children in their care.

The first draft guideline and disposal authorisation were drafted to cover records relating to the safety and well-being of children. This was in response to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RCIRCSA).

The scope of this advice and disposal authorisation was expanded to include records relating to the proactive protection of all vulnerable persons.  This guidance places the protection of children and vulnerable people at its core and highlights the responsibility of institutions to identify and mitigate the risk to vulnerable persons from all forms of abuse.

The guidance was developed in response to:

  • feedback from agencies received during consultation activities
  • recent legislative changes such as the introduction of the Human Rights Act 2019, and changes introduced in the Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019, and
  • anticipated recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability.

There were 2 consultation activities with agencies on the draft disposal authorisation and guideline. Key themes from both consultations included:

  • clarification on identification of vulnerable persons and corroborating evidence
  • further information on risk assessments and determining high risk interactions
  • how to determine best evidence of interactions and identify relevant records of interactions
  • requests for sector specific advice and specific lists of relevant records
  • incorporation of new disposal authorisations in the General Retention and Disposal Schedule (GRDS)
  • clarification of how the new disposal authorisations relate to existing disposal authorisations
  • further information on how the new requirements apply to existing records held by agencies.

More information

Find out more about the:

For more information about the development of this guideline and disposal authorisation, including the consultations, the previous disposal freeze, and background information see:

See also:

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