Royal Commissions are public inquires and the highest form of inquiry into matters of public importance. A Royal Commission has broad legislative powers to gather information to assist with its inquiry, including the power to summons witnesses to appear before it and the power to request individuals or organisations to produce documents as evidence.

Disposal Freezes

Many disposal freezes are developed in response to the commencement of a Commission to ensure that records that may be of relevance to said Commission are retained for a specific period of time even when they may be due for destruction. Disposal freezes can relate to records relevant to State or Commonwealth Commissions.

South Australian agencies (including South Australian Government Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry) are also required to identify records of relevance in accordance with disposal freezes prior to the destruction of official records, please see State Records website for current disposal freezes.

Commission’s Recommendations

Commissioners recommendations can relate to State or Commonwealth Commissions.

The Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia (RCIRCSA) made numerous recommendations and Volume 8 of their Final Report dealt with recordkeeping and information sharing. One particular recommendation; Recommendation 8.3 states: “The National Archives of Australia and state and territory public records authorities should provide guidance to government and non-government on identifying records, which, it is reasonable to expect, may become relevant to an actual or alleged incident of child sexual abuse; and on the retention and disposal of such records.”

To this end, Recommendation 8.3 has been endorsed by the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities (CAARA) and State Records and a guidance sheet has been developed on Identifying and retaining records which may become relevant to an actual or alleged incident of abuse. This guidance can also be used by non-government organisations.

Sentencing and disposal for South Australian Government Commissions

Although Commissions are short-lived agencies, the records they create must be managed and disposed of appropriately.

To provide disposal coverage for operational records commonly created or received as evidence of the functions and activities of South Australian Government Commissions established in South Australia, General Disposal Schedule (GDS) 26 was approved in 2011, GDS 26 v2 was approved in 2021.

Any records sentenced using GDS 26 v1 that are yet to be transferred to State Records or destroyed will be required to be sentenced under GDS 26 v2 prior to transfer / destruction.

GDS 30 v2 (as amended) provides administrative records disposal coverage for Commissions.

Page last updated: 14 February 2023