One of the more interesting tasks to perform for any organisation is the creation of a retention disposal schedule. Interesting, you ask? Sounds kinda boring, right? Whilst I must confess to being completely unaware of these sorts of documents and I was a little fuzzy on how long we keep documents, I found it to be a really interesting exercise to actually produce an organisation wide document that covered academic, medico-legal death investigation, patient information and administrative requirements. Each of these areas have their own Retention Disposal Authority that needed to be referenced.
What is a Retention Disposal Authority, you ask? It is a formal document provided by the Public Records of Victoria (PROV) that identifies the various types or categories of records maintained by a public office, how long they have to be retained and whether they can eventually be destroyed or retained as State archives.
Once documents reach their end of life, that is the end of the retention period, they are not automatically destroyed. The records need to be appraised by the organisation’s recordkeeper and the owner of the information to determine whether or not the records still hold some value, legal, historical or social. It may be that there is still a chance that information may be required for legal proceedings or the information has social/cultural value or historical value for the organisation. Nothing is destroyed without proper documentation, recorded information of what is destroyed and consultation, and once it is deemed to be no longer required the information is destroyed in line with business practices and legal requirements held by the organisation.