The University has a range of legal obligations and other external drivers that require us to keep and manage records in certain ways. Our legal obligations arise from several sources - including legislation, mandated standards and contracts.
Some of the major obligations, which are relevant to all University employees, are discussed below.
State Records Act (SA) 1997
This law applies to the University, as well as State government agencies. It requires us to preserve and maintain "official records" - which means any record created or received in the course of carrying out the University's operations or business.
It is important to realise that this law applies not only to employees of the University, but to anyone else who creates or receives documents on behalf of the University (such as titleholders, contractors, agents and ARI Pty Ltd). Such documents should also be incorporated into the University's official records system.
E-Learning 101 presentation on the Act compiled by Legal and Risk Branch
Adequate Records Management Standard
Related to the State Records Act, the University also must comply with the Adequate Records Management Standard. This Standard is mandatory, sets out more detailed guidance for managing records, and forms the primary basis upon which the University would be audited for compliance with the legislation.
Freedom of Information Act (SA)
This law gives members of the public a right to access our records with some exceptions, such as where records contain personal or confidential information. This right means that the University is required to produce documents that are requested under Freedom of Information (FOI), within a very limited time frame and in line with certain procedures.
For the University to meet its FOI obligations, it is essential that all relevant areas of the University cooperate in identifying and producing all documents that are possibly relevant to an application - including "documents" stored electronically, such as emails.
The coordination of FOI applications on behalf of the University is also essential, and occurs through an accredited FOI Officer located in University Archives, Records and Collections.
University's Freedom of Information Policy
Legal & Risk site - FOI 101
Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
Commonly called the "Research Code", this includes specific requirements for the recording and retention of research materials, data and records. Although research materials may be anything from a tissue sample to a complex computer algorithm, research "data" and "records" are tangible University records that must be maintained not only in accordance with the Research Code but also with other records laws, like the State Records Act. Compliance with the Research Code is now required as a condition of ARC and NHMRC research funding - and it is just good research practice to have a tangible evidence trail supporting your findings and tracing your lines of inquiry.
University's Policy relating to the Research Code
Other external drivers - maintaining accountability
Apart from legal requirements to keep certain records, the University is also expected to retain complete and transparent records in order to maintain accountability and answer scrutiny from a range of external sources.
By way of example, these are just some of the people or bodies we answer to:
- State Records SA
- the Auditor General
- the Federal and State Education departments
- the Australia Research Council (ARC)
- the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- other funding bodies
- industry partners
- and individual members of the public (who are entitled to access our records under Freedom of Information).
In short, recordkeeping is not only about complying with recordkeeping standards and legislation: it is also about ensuring we have tangible evidence to meet all our other obligations and demonstrate accountability to our funders, collaborators and overseers.