Destroying records

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How to destroy records

Records at UNSW must never be destroyed without the authorisation of the Senior Responsible Officer of the University.

Records must be appraised before they receive this authorisation and can be confidentially destroyed. 

Use the Records Disposal Form if you have records you wish to destroy.

Why destroy records?

  • To enable us to find the information we do still need more easily
  • To reduce the risks of unauthorised access to confidential information
  • To eliminate unnecessary storage costs
  • To meet our requirements under NSW legislation.

What about digital records?

The recordkeeping requirements are always the same, irrespective of the format of the record. However, with digital records there is an increased risk associated with unauthorised access to information on a large scale.

If you are using a system of record, the system will manage record disposal for you, there is no need for further action on your part.

If not, you’ll need to follow the record appraisal process to receive the proper authorisation to destroy record.

When to destroy records

The NSW State Records Act provides specific guidance on when it is appropriate to destroy records through NSW State Archives & Records Disposal Authorities.

These Disposal Authorities; classify records by the business activity they support, specify how long they must be kept at a minimum, and define whether they may then be destroyed or must be kept as part of the permanent record of the State of NSW (State archives.)

The allocation of these to University records (and documenting this process) is known as appraisal. Appraisal is required for any format of record.

Who can destroy records?

Records must never be destroyed without authorisation. At UNSW, this authorisation is provided by the Manager, Records & Archives, as the Senior Responsible Officer of the University.

Records must be appraised and approved before they can be confidentially destroyed.

Use the Records Disposal Form if you have records you wish to destroy.

When is it not possible to destroy records?

Records may not be destroyed that are subject to:

  • Current or pending legal proceedings
  • An application for access under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW), the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) or the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW)
  • Government policy or directive not to be destroyed

Can I destroy drafts?

Records that are ephemeral or facilitative and do not have continuing value may be destroyed under the terms of what is known as Normal Administrative Practice (NAP). Please refer to the Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) page before destroying records.

Who can appraise records?

Records & Archives staff can identify the correct Disposal authority references for your records. You just need to:

  1. Identify and document the records requiring appraisal
  2. Provide this information to Records & Archives
  3. Records & Archives will then authorise the destruction of the records, or their retention for which a number of options are available.

Can I appraise records myself?

Yes. Staff may identify the minimum legal periods for records retention themselves using the NSW Disposal Authorities.

There are currently a number of Disposal Authorities of particular relevance to the University:

These describe the business functions and activities of the University and an associated period of time for which records must, at a minimum, be retained.

You will need to document your records and find the relevant disposal authority reference from the documents above.

This information should then be provided to Records & Archives who will validate it and authorise record destruction (if appropriate.)

Records should always be disposed of with the same level of security that was maintained during the life of the records. Confidential paper waste services are available to order through Archibus.

Scanning Records

Refer to Storing records for information and resources on scanning (and storing) records.

Want to destroy records?

Use the UNSW Records Disposal Form if you have records you wish to destroy.

Have a question?

Contact the Records Team on 02 9385 2861 or email / Contact the Archives Team on 02 9385 2906 or email