Retention and disposal

What is records disposal?

Disposal is a range of processes associated with implementing records retention, destruction or transfer decisions, which are documented in the University Records Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA).

Who is responsible for disposal?

All University staff share a responsibility for records management, including disposal. Each business unit is encouraged to integrate a regular records disposal program into their routine operations to ensure that records are disposed of appropriately and in a timely manner.

Note: If you have a substantial amount of disposal work to undertake, Records & Information can do a survey of the records and create a Transfer and Disposal Proposal. This would include an estimate of what your project would cost to your unit using casual staff experienced in records management work, and other requirements. If this option is taken up, we then put you in touch with a suitable person from our casuals register and would provide guidance to them.

When should disposal be undertaken?

It is good practice to attempt short and simple projects and to conduct regular (eg, annual) disposal rather than to allow records to accumulate.

Occasionally, additional ad hoc records disposal activities may be required. For example, when:

Tools for disposal

University staff have two main tools which they can use to help with records disposal.

  • Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA)

    An RDA is a legal instrument which authorises the retention and disposal of records.

    The University Records Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) has been developed to cover all records created and managed by University staff. It outlines:

    • The minimum required period of time for which temporary records should be kept, before they can be destroyed
    • The types of records that should be kept permanently as University archives

    Using the University Records RDA

  • Normal Administrative Practice (NAP)

    Records of ephemeral value (ie, records with little or no ongoing administrative, fiscal, legal, evidential or historical value) can be destroyed without authorisation as part of NAP.

    The following material may be destroyed under NAP:

    • Working papers consisting of rough notes and calculations used solely to assist in the preparation of other records such as correspondence, reports and statistical tabulations
    • Drafts not intended for retention as part of the business unit’s records, the content of which has been reproduced and incorporated into the business  unit's record keeping system
    • Extra copies of documents and published material preserved solely for reference

What is the disposal process?

The process of records disposal can be broken down into the following tasks:

  • Identify
  • Use NAP
  • Sentence
  • Undertake disposal action

Carrying out records disposal

  1. Identify records

    You need to identify your records before you can make any decisions about how to manage them. This means establishing the following:

    • The type of records
    • Where the records are stored
    • How many records there are
    • Any other relevant information.

    Records & Information can provide a Records Survey that will assist you in documenting this information.

  2. Use NAP

    Once you have identified the records you want to dispose, review them to see if any are ephemeral, and can be destroyed under Normal Administrative Practice (NAP).

    You can use the NAP workflow to determine if a record can be destroyed under NAP.

    NAP workflow

  3. Sentence using the University Records RDA

    The next step is to sentence the records. This process consists of classifying and establishing the record class, retention period and disposal action.

    The University Records RDA will guide you through the process.

    Using the University Records RDA

    In the RDA, records will be classed as either ‘Temporary’ or ‘Permanent’:

    Type of recordAction
    Temporary – time expired (ie has been kept for the required retention period specified in the RDA)Destroy
    Temporary – not time expiredStore the records until they are time expired
    Permanent – still required for business useRetain in business unit until business use concludes
    Permanent – not required for business useTransfer to Records & Information
  4. Undertake disposal action

    Once you have sentenced the records to establish the record class and retention requirements, then you can carry out the disposal action:

Further information

If you require further information or advice on records disposal, please contact Records & Information: records-info@unimelb.edu.au

Note: Advice on records disposal is limited to University of Melbourne records only. Records created by non-University organisations (except where the University has dealings with them) are not covered.