Record Retention & Disposal Schedule for Non-Government Schools - April 2018 Update

The Australian Society of Archivists Inc. (ASA) is the peak professional body for archivists and record keepers in Australia. The ASA produces some useful guidance regarding how long schools should retain records for and what documents they should, and should not, retain.

The ASA Records Retention and Disposal Schedule (RRDS) for Non-Government Schools provides an overview of all records likely to be created by non-government schools and provides guidance on the retention and disposal of those records. The RRDS is not publicly available and must be purchased from the ASA. It is a guide only as it does not replace or override legislated or statutory record keeping and retention regulations, but it does provide an excellent overview of what should be retained and for how long.

Revised in 2017 (the original was published in 2007), the ASA RRDS covers the following:

  • Administration – includes general day-to-day office administration tasks;
  • Governance – information such as decisions made by school boards, retention of board minutes and recording who the board members are;
  • Student Services – this includes any services the school provides to students, such as health and welfare, academic support, scholarships, excursions and accommodation such as boarding houses;
  • Student Management – includes student admission, enrolment information, child protection, attendance and behavioural management;
  • Teaching and Learning – information that would be retained include class plans;
  • Communication – letters, emails and possibly even text messages may be included if they relate to school activity;
  • School related groups – any parents' associations, sports teams, alumni members and management and any associated social groups;
  • Objects – this refers to any physical objects that may be collected by the school such as art collections, items of historical significance, old school uniforms, photos – the list is almost endless; and
  • Ephemera – information or documents that were used for short-term usefulness such as post-it notes or other documents you can destroy in normal circumstances.

The new Records Retention & Disposal Schedule, 2nd Edition (RRDS) has been redeveloped from an earlier version (2007) to meet changes to legislation, revised and new industry standards, changed community expectations and findings and recommendations from government inquiries into institutions with a duty of care for children. It is a useful reference document for those who work with risk management, compliance requirements, records management and archives within non-government schools, and should be part of our good governance, compliance administration and organisational accountability.

The updated schedule reflects minimum standards nationwide, in response to the above factors, and compared equivalent retention and disposal instruments for government schools across all Australian states and territories. It was developed in consultation with a selected Reference Group consisting of ASA Members working in the school archive environment, the ASA School Archives Special Interest Groups, and sixty-five peak industry bodies.

Accessing the RRDS

To access the ASA's Records Retention & Disposal Schedule, follow this link:

Main legal requirements

According to the ASA, there are multiple sources of legislation which, depending on a school's governance structure, may apply to different types of records.

Section 286 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) states that financial records (such as invoices, receipts and cheques) must be retained for a minimum period of seven (7) years. According to section 262A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth), tax records must be held for a minimum period of five (5) years. Additionally, the APPs under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) require documents retained by APP entities, such as schools, to remain private and secure, as long as necessary.

Furthermore, under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) it is an offence to intentionally destroy documents that a person knows are, or may be, required as evidence in a judicial proceeding in order to prevent them from being used in court. Each state and territory has their own legislation regarding this issue, for example, section 254 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) makes it an offence to destroy a document that is reasonably likely to be used in a legal proceeding.

The RRDS does not address these laws but does offer a general framework for managing records, once a school's legal obligations have been considered. A revised RRDS was released in April 2018., where the ASA advises that schools should continue to manage the collection, storage and disposal of records in accordance with relevant legal requirements and guidance.

Perth Workshops are Available

ASA WA Branch is running a workshop on 10 August 2018 on their new records Retention & Disposal Schedule. For details and registration: