The Commonwealth Government is establishing a Royal Commission into Child Abuse which will have an impact on a number of Victorian government agencies. Documents which may be required for the Royal Commission must not be destroyed even if a disposal authorisation is in place.
While the terms of reference have not been finalised, it is clear that the Royal Commission will have a large scope, and a major focus will be on institutional responses to child abuse. It is anticipated that this will include the responses of institutions which receive reports of child abuse, those that investigate allegations of child abuse, and those that alleviate the impact of child abuse. A range of Victorian agencies may be required to provide evidence to the Commission.
Under sections 253 to 255, Division 5 of the Crimes Act 1958 agencies must not knowingly destroy, or approve the destruction of, documents or data that are reasonably likely to be required in evidence in a legal proceeding. This advice applies even where a valid Retention and Disposal Authority has been issued by Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).
PROV has published an advice on the Crimes (Document Destruction) Act 2006 (which modified the Crimes Act 1958). The advice is available at http://prov.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/PROVRMAdvice18.pdf.