Records Disposal Freeze

5 February 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Royal Commission: Records Disposal Freeze

As you will know, the Federal Government has recently announced that it will hold a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse (see http://childabuseroyalcommission.dpmc.gov.au/home )

Investigations of this kind rely heavily on records to piece together the background to the issues and events about which allegations are made. These records may come from a variety of sources and it is the responsibility of institutions to ensure that records are available if required.

The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission were released on 11 January 2013. Records that may be sought by the Royal Commission are responses by institutions to reports and information about allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse (where a child is a person under the age of 18) and any changes to policies, practices systems that have resulted from these responses. It is possible that the University, its subsidiaries, semi-autonomous bodies or affiliates hold records that may be relevant.

I seek your assistance in ensuring that any relevant records are protected.

While the University has not historically had a significant involvement in working with minors, it is important that any records that may be relevant to the Commission are protected from loss or destruction. Therefore the University is implementing a records disposal freeze to cover any University records that may be required. A disposal freeze is an institution wide directive that prohibits the destruction of records relevant to the nature of the investigation until the freeze is lifted. Details of the disposal freeze are in the attached document (2013 Disposal Freeze Details).

Staff should also note that it is illegal under the Crimes (Document Destruction) Act 2006 to destroy records which are reasonably anticipated to be required in legal proceedings, and that there are significant penalties for doing so. The Public Record Office Victoria has issued advice on this matter at http://prov.vic.gov.au/blog-news/royal-commission-into-child-abuse.
If you have further questions about this issue or about records management within the University in general, please contact Records Services at records-services@unimelb.edu.au.

Kathryn Dan
Associate Director, Records and Compliance
Legal and Risk, University Services