The State Records Act 2000 (the Act) is the most significant piece of legislation affecting the management of State records.
The Act and the accompanying State Records (Consequential Provisions) Act were proclaimed on 30 November 2001. The Act replaced the archives and recordkeeping aspects of the Library Board of Western Australia Act 1951-1983.
The Act was the result of many years of hard work and commitment by current and former members of the State Records Office (and the former State Archives), the Library Board of Western Australia, the Parliamentary Counsel's Office and the recordkeeping community of Western Australia.
The Act strengthens public sector accountability through effective recordkeeping; provides for standard-setting, monitoring and investigative functions reportable directly to Parliament; and takes into account technological and administrative trends in recordkeeping.
Under the Act a State record is defined as any record of information (in any form) created, received or maintained by a government organisation or parliamentary department in the course of conducting its business activities. State records may be in any format on which information can be stored, including maps, plans, photographs, films, magnetic and optical media.
The Act provides for an independent State Records Commission (the Commission) with standard-setting, auditing and reporting responsibilities. The State Records Commission is accountable directly to Parliament. The four members of the Commission are the Auditor General, the Information Commissioner, the Ombudsman, and an appointee with recordkeeping experience from outside Government.
A cornerstone of the legislation is an instrument of accountability called the "recordkeeping plan". Every State organisation is to have and operate under an approved Recordkeeping Plan, which is to set out the matters about which records are to be created by the organisation, how those records are to be managed, and for how long records are to be kept. Recordkeeping Plans will be submitted to the State Records Commission for approval.
The Act formalises the position and role of Director of State Records, known as the State Archivist and Executive Director State Records. Under the leadership of the Executive Director, the State Records Office functions as the operational arm of the State Records Commission. The Executive Director, through the State Records Office, provides advice, assistance and training for government organisations on recordkeeping matters, including the development of and compliance with their recordkeeping plans. The Executive Director advises and assists the Commission and reports to the Commission on the operation of the Act, including any alleged breaches.
The online version of the State Records Act 2000 can be viewed at the Western Australian Legislation website.