As you are no doubt aware, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has completed its work. One of the many findings of the Royal Commission were that, “inadequate records and recordkeeping have contributed to delays in or failures to identify and respond to risks and incidents of child sexual abuse and have exacerbated distress and trauma for many survivors.”
Governments across Australia are presently finalizing their responses to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. However, in the interim, some steps have already been taken. In Queensland, Queensland State Archives has announced that effective from 1 June 2018, there is a state wide ban on destruction of documents that might become relevant to an allegation of child sexual abuse. In essence, any records covered by the disposal freeze must not be destroyed until the disposal freeze is revoked. National Archives announced a similar freeze some years ago, and
The disposal freeze applies to all Queensland Public Authorities, but importantly flows through to contractors and service providers that create, receive or keep records on behalf of a Queensland Public Authority. That is, if your entity provides or provided services to the Queensland Government (for example, Legal Aid, Child Protection, Disability Services, Domestic Violence, and the like) you will be required to also comply with the disposal freeze – even if you don’t presently provide services to the Queensland Government.
We recommend that your entity consider whether you likely hold records that are caught by this disposal freeze, and if so, advise relevant employees and document the steps that you have taken to comply with the disposal freeze. The categories of records affected could be quite broad.
Please also keep in mind that we expect that similar disposal freezes will be made across Australia, noting that other governments have already taken steps in this direction.
If you need further help with navigating this issue, please call us on 07 3252 0011 for a phone appointment. We have lawyers with a depth of experience in both human services and commercial matters that can help you work through these issues.