About the Royal Commission
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RCIRCSA) highlighted critical recordkeeping issues, with the Final Report stating:
“Inadequate records and recordkeeping have contributed to delays in or failures to identify and respond to risks and incidents of child sexual abuse and have exacerbated distress and trauma for many survivors.”
In response, PROV has developed guidance and a new Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) for Victorian Government agencies:
- Creating, Managing and Retaining Records of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations
- PROS 19/08 Organisational Response to Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations RDA
Your responsibilities and how to meet them
Agencies should review the guidance and PROS 19/08 to ensure you understand and meet your recordkeeping responsibilities in accordance with PROV Standards and the RCIRCSA recommendations.
Please note: PROV is in the process of reviewing existing RDAs to ensure they meet the new retention requirements. Please regularly check the PROS 19/08 page for a current list of RDAs that have been varied/amended.
Creating, Managing and Retaining Records of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations guidance document outlines the following key points:
Certain records cannot be destroyed, even if they’re classed as temporary
- Records which are reasonably likely to be needed for current or future legal proceedings, including any civil or criminal proceeding or any inquiry in which evidence may be given before a court or person acting judicially such as a Royal Commission or Board of Inquiry, cannot be destroyed. Even if the minimum requirement set out in a RDA has passed.
- The Limitation of Actions Act 1958 was amended in 2015, removing all limitation periods that apply to civil actions for damages founded on child sexual abuse. This means that Victorian public sector offices cannot destroy any records which are reasonably likely to be needed for civil action legal proceedings, for at least the life of the child and possibly longer.
Processes and practices will need to be assessed
- It is the responsibility of every public sector office to undertake their own detailed analysis of their business processes, information management and recordkeeping practices to identify affected records and ensure they are managed and retained in accordance with requirements. This includes assessing records created in all formats and held within all systems and those created or held by outsourced or contracted service providers on behalf of the public office.
Records must be created and retained
- When an allegation of child sexual abuse is made, full and accurate records must be created to document all aspects of the allegation and investigation. These records must be properly managed, protected and retained over time. The RCIRCSA Final Report recommended these records be retained for a minimum of 45 years after the incident—but this may not be sufficient as legal proceedings or formal inquiries may occur after that—PROV is reviewing RDA requirements accordingly.
- Public offices also need to consider which records might be needed in case an allegation is made in the future - being able to access authentic, informative and reliable records is likely to be critical. Offices need to take a risk-based approach when considering which records might be needed in the future, based on the type and level of interaction they have with children.