What is a University record?
During the course of your time at Monash University, you will find that you manage a range of different types of documents. For example, some of these documents may take the form of research data or they may be related to teaching. Other documents might be related to administrative functions. You may create and receive a lot of 'work group' documents (e.g. drafts, working papers, copies of things, etc), which are less likely to be classified as records. You may also create and receive more formal documents that form part of the university's official corporate memory (e.g. final reports, committee papers, policy documents, records of financial transactions, student documents, human resources documents, official correspondence, legal documents, etc.). These types of documents are more likely to be classified as corporate records. Records and Archives Services provides advice and guidelines on how to look after corporate records.
A corporate record therefore comprises recorded information in any form (regardless of format), created or received and maintained by the university in the transaction of business activities, or the conduct of affairs, and retained as evidence of such activity. Corporate records need to be managed in University recordkeeping systems.
Monash University has a legal obligation to create and manage records which support the university's operational and administrative responsibilities and enable compliance with external demands such as audits and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
What are vital records?
Vital records are needed to:
- establish and protect the rights and interest of the organisation and its employees, customers and stakeholders
- re-establsh the organisation's functions after a disaster
- operate the organisation during a disaster.
It is up to individual business units to identify their vital records. However, within the University context, vital records may include, but are not limited to;
- student records held in enterprise information systems
- master building plans
- significant faculty committee papers reflecting decision making around courses
- payroll records held in enterprise information systems
- significant financial records held in enterprise information systems
- contracts and agreements
It is not unusual for business units to consider that all of their records are vital. However, vital records are a distinct set of records and as noted above, provide a specific function within the University. The purpose of identifying these records is to prioritise them in terms of resourcing, storage and security. Hardcopy vital records should be prioritised when making a digitisation plan, as a form of back up in terms of disaster planning.
Why does good recordkeeping matter?
The University has a legal obligation to manage its records properly. The records you create are subject to a range of legislation including:
- Public Records Act (Vic) 1973
- Information Privacy Act (Vic) 2000
- Health Records Act (Vic) 2001
- Privacy Act (Cth) (1988)
- Copyright Act (Cth) 1968
- Electronic Transactions Act (Cth) 2001
- Evidence Act (Vic) 1958
- Whistleblowers Protection Act (Vic) 2001
- Freedom of Information Act (Vic) 1982
- Crimes Act (Vic) 1958 (in particular, provisions relating to document falsification, destruction and suppression etc)
This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible legislative acts that impact on recordkeeping. These particular examples also relate to Victorian campuses and may not apply in the same way to records created on Monash’s overseas campuses. Staff working on these campuses are encouraged to contact Records and Archives Services staff for more information on these issues.
Responsibilities for recordkeeping
The Monash University Recordkeeping Policy states the following:
'As the "officer in charge of a public office," the Vice-Chancellor is responsible for the university having a records management program and keeping full and accurate records of its activities, in accordance with the Victorian Public Records Act 1973.'
Others with recordkeeping responsibilities include
- Heads of cost centres: Need to understand what records originate in their area and who is responsible for ensuring that they are being properly captured and maintained. Will need to be aware of key recordkeeping functions like disposal, as they may be required to sign off when records from their area are due for destruction. May be held to account if there is a Freedom of Information enquiry related to their area.
- Records and Archives Services: Is responsible for creating recordkeeping policy and procedures for the whole university. Provides a small registry function to support key central administration areas including Research and University Solicitor's Office. Provides advice on what records to create, capture and maintain. Advises the university on correct records storage, records disposal and preservation practices. Manages the TRIM (Micro Focus Content Manager) recordkeeping system and provides training in TRIM. Provides a reference service through the University Archives, who also provides access to online resources, including MONPIX.
- All staff: All staff are public officers and consequently may be responsible for any number of recordkeeping activities including: creating, capturing, maintaining, storing, disposing, archiving and providing access to university records. The type of records that different areas of the university are responsible for, differs, depending on the function. So staff involved in student administration may have far more involvement in the management of student records, than staff who work in Facilities and Services. All staff need to be aware that they have recordkeeping responsibilities and if they are unsure as to what these might involve they should contact Records and Archives Services for advice.