Agencies are required to make public access determinations for information assets at the time of transfer of the information assets to State Records' custody.
A public access determination is made by the agency responsible for the information assets, in consultation with the Director of State Records, to indicate whether they the information assets are:
- open to public access immediately
- open to public access after a specified period, once their sensitivity has diminished
Agencies may also be approached to make or amend a public access determination for information assets already in our custody.
State Records does not provide access to information assets in our custody without a public access determination.
State Records cannot provide access to information assets restricted under a public access determination unless this is authorised by the agency. Some agencies provide public researchers with access authorisation letters to provide access to restricted information assets.
Information assets transferred to State Records' custody are usually over 15 years old and there is an expectation that any personal or commercial sensitivity in the information assets will diminish over time.
Information assets from the nineteenth and early twentieth century for example (information assets over 100 years old) should generally be openly accessible to the public.
In rare cases, the information assets need to be restricted for a longer period.
Reasons for restricting public access to archives may include:
- the protection of personal information
- continuing information security needs
- ongoing commercial confidentiality
- legislative requirements (although these requirements may only apply to current information assets, not indefinitely)
A public access determination that restricts access to information assets in our custody does not prevent a person from applying to the agency for access to the information assets.
To make a public access determination at the time of transfer, agencies will complete the tab of the Archives Access and Description Lists.
If the information assets are already in our custody State Records will send through a Public Access Determination template with a request to complete and authorise the determination.
A public access determination can apply to:
- a broad range of information assets from an agency, including from multiple systems (a blanket determination)
- a set of information assets from the same recordkeeping system (a series)
- a specific set of information assets from a recordkeeping system transferred at the same time and with the same access requirements (a consignment)
To satisfy the requirement to consult with the Director, agencies should refer to the Public Access Determinations Guideline prepared by State Records.
The Public Access Determination is to be authorised by a senior agency representative.