Our obligations and responsibilities

What are University records?

University records provide evidence of the business activities and processes you undertake on behalf of the University. Records can be in many formats such as emails, spreadsheets, maps and plans, minutes, memos, photographs, audio-visual materials and electronic documents.

Example of record vs non-record

Record Non-record
  • Policies/processes
  • Business unit planning documents
  • Committee agenda and minutes
  • Internal/external advice and reports
  • Interactions between staff and students
  • Research reports and data
  • Legal agreements and contracts
  • Authorisations and approvals
  • Documentation of a University project
  • Individual notes that inform high level decision making
  • Emails between team members making plans for lunch
  • Unsolicited emails and promotional material offering goods and services
  • Copies of newsletters and circulars sent to many staff
  • Extracts or printouts from Enterprise Systems
  • Professional association subscriptions or copies of articles and publications produced by other organisations to which the University has had no input
  • Publicly available information (e.g., copies of legislation)

University records need to be stored in an ANU approved system of record. The University’s primary recordkeeping systems are:

  • the Financial Management System
  • the Human Resources System
  • the Record Management and Archives Systems
  • the Research Data Management and Repository Systems
  • the Student Administration System.

The Electronic Records Management System (ERMS) is the ANU central repository for electronic records that contain evidence of the management and business of the University. The ERMS can be accessed by all ANU staff.

Records in email folders, network drives, and cloud-based network drives (e.g. OneDrive, Dropbox) do not meet the requirements of a record, as they are:

  • not discoverable across the organisation
  • not organised in a manner that maximises their value for future activities
  • not protected from deletion or alteration, which conflicts with records management legislation.

Why do we need to keep records?

Keeping records provides many benefits for you and the University. Good recordkeeping practices:

  • support a single source of truth for evidence of decision making that can be found, retrieved, and shared easily
  • maximise the value of your work for both current and future operations, and preserve memory, knowledge, and history of the University 
  • avoid duplicating effort and allow you to collaborate with different people and business units across the University
  • mitigate risks of non-compliance, unauthorised access and avoid unwanted disciplinary actions for you and the University
  • help the University be open and transparent in its operations, meet its students’, staff and other stakeholders' expectations, and be compliant with Commonwealth legislation.

Who is responsible for managing University records?

All University staff share a responsibility for records management. As an ANU staff member, you are responsible for:

  • documenting activities performed and decisions made on behalf of the University
  • incorporating records created and received into the University's recordkeeping systems
  • not destroying or deleting University records without authorisation.

When can a record be destroyed or deleted?

University records, whether electronic records in the ERMS, locally held records in any format, or legacy paper files, must be reviewed against a disposal authority approved by the National Archives of Australia before they are disposed of. A disposal authority is a legal instrument giving permission for destruction or retention of records. Some records are of long-term value and will need to be preserved in the University Archives.

The main disposal authorities that cover ANU are Administrative Functions Disposal Authority and the ANU-specific authority for Student, Research, and Teaching and Learning files. The ERMS automatically applies the approved retention period depending on where the record is filed.

Some records of low or short-term value can be destroyed or deleted in the normal course of business without authorisation or formal permission. This is known as ‘normal administrative practice’ or NAP, which covers records such as:

  • copies or duplicates
  • externally published material
  • drafts not intended for retention where the finalised content has been kept in a recordkeeping system
  • parts of an email thread where the complete thread is in the recordkeeping system.

Authorised disposal protects the University by reducing risks, such as privacy breaches, and protecting valuable information assets.

Contact the University Records team at records@anu.edu.au for guidance if:

  • you are unsure whether a document constitutes a University record
  • you don’t know how to save a record into University recordkeeping systems
  • you have questions about whether you can dispose of a record.