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Getting started in records management

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has a range of tools and guides to help you establish proper recordkeeping practices within your workplace.

Firstly, you should identify the most urgent recordkeeping problems in your agency. 

When you have determined your agency’s recordkeeping issues, you should develop a plan to address them. Ensure you think about what resources will be required to achieve success, and what your timeframe for implementation is. 

In some agencies, the best approach might be to develop a strategy or an action plan, which may need approval, and funding. In other agencies, it might be better to select a few improvements and implement them;  this might encourage interest in recordkeeping and help to get approval to implement further actions.  

Success is more likely if you can engage the interest and support of others in the organisation. If there is a committee or working group responsible for information technology, information management, corporate services, risk management or records management projects and programs, seek their buy-in for your actions. If none of these exist, consider establishing a recordkeeping working group. Report progress, issues and outcomes to them.

Below you'll find a range of advice to assist with records management in your agency.

The Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO) also provides a Records Management Checklist to help improve the management of government records and help agencies to fulfil their obligations under the Public Records Act 1973. 

What you need to know - the basics

PROV is the office responsible for ensuring the Victorian government create and manage records properly, and in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973 (PR Act). 

This is managed via the development of Recordkeeping Standards. These Standards, developed by PROV, provide a set of mandatory principles and requirements regarding the creation, access, storage, management and disposal of public records.

Records management is the design and management of processes and systems to capture full and accurate evidence of an organisation’s activities.

All Victorian public sector (VPS) employees are responsible for creating and maintaining records that show evidence of workplace activities and decisions. These records must be full, accurate, reliable and managed in the appropriate work system. 

Victorian public sector agencies have a responsibility under the Public Records Act 1973 to carry out a program to efficiently manage public records and information in accordance with the Standards issued by PROV. 

A Public Record is any and all information created, maintained, sent or received whilst carrying out your work.
Public records can be created in a range of formats, including hardcopy and digital. They might include:
•    Emails
•    Minutes from a meeting
•    Posts on social media
•    Authorisations given via a system workflow
•    Information within a database.
A record can be something that is formally created and managed, like a legal casefile; or they can be more ad hoc, like notes from a phonecall. They also include all work information that is collected using a personal device, like your mobile phone.

Public offices cannot function without keeping accurate and reliable information about their decisions, actions and agreements. 

Effective management of public information is crucial for the provision of excellent service to the Victorian community, and enhances the trust that the public have in government processes and its officials.  

This is largely because public information and data relates to decisions and actions that impact directly on individuals and local communities. 

People rely on the information that government creates and keeps and expect that it will be managed properly. 

According to the definition in the PR Act, if you work for a public office you are subject to the PR Act.  

What is a public office?
•    Any department, branch or office of the Government of Victoria
•    Any public statutory body corporate or unincorporate
•    A State owned enterprise within the meaning of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1992
•    Any municipal council
•    Any other local governing body corporate or unincorporate
If you’re unsure about the status of your workplace as a public office, you should speak to your manager. 

A good records management program: 
•    Is strategically planned 
•    Is appropriately resourced
•    Includes communication and training provisions
•    Is effectively governed
•    Has systems in place to address non-compliance.

It ensures that good recordkeeping practices are in place across the organisation and are built into systems and processes. 

A good program ensures regular monitoring and assessment of recordkeeping practices, with improvements implemented as necessary. 

The aim is to ensure:
•    Full, accurate, reliable and trustworthy records of agency decisions and activities are created and available
•    Records are protected from inappropriate access or use
•    Records are protected from damage or loss
•    Records are retained for their minimum required retention period
•    Permanent value records are identified and transferred to PROV at the agreed time
•    Staff understand and meet recordkeeping obligations.

The PROV Standards set Principles and Requirements for all aspects of agency recordkeeping. There are Standards for:
•    Strategic Management
•    Operational Management 
•    Create Capture Control
•    Access
•    Storage  
•    Disposal

Some Standards have associated Specifications, containing more detailed Requirements.

Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) are a type of Standard. 

•    Authorise the disposal of public records
•    Set minimum required retention periods 
•    Identify records which have permanent value

Government agencies must transfer digital and physical records identified as having  permanent value to PROV custody at a time agreed between PROV and the agency.

A-Z Topics

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Browse common recordkeeping terms and topics

Online recordkeeping training

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Recordkeeping fundamentals training for Victorian government agencies

Recordkeeping Assessment Tool (RKAT)

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Measuring recordkeeping practices against PROV Standards

Records Management Network (RMN)


Forum for records management knowledge exchange in the public sector

Standards framework

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Learn about the PROV standards for the efficient management of public records

How long should records be kept?

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Find guidance about retention and disposal of records

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples