As we come towards the end of the year, it's time to get ready to store the documents and records that have been made throughout the year, such as incident, injury, illness records, documentation relating to a child etc.. The National Regulations provides details on how long records and documents need to be stored and kept.
According to the National Regulation, the storage period of records and documents are as follows:
- if the record relates to an incident, illness, injury or trauma suffered by a child while being educated and cared for by the education and care service until the child is aged 25 years;
- if the record relates to an incident, illness, injury or trauma suffered by a child that may have occurred following an incident while being educated and cared for by the education and care service, until the child is aged 25 years;
- if the record relates to the death of a child while being educated and cared for by the education and care service or that may have occurred as a result of an incident while being educated and cared for, until the end of 7 years after the death;
- in the case of any other record relating to a child enrolled at the education and care service, until the end of 3 years after the last date on which the child was educated and cared for by the service;
- if the record relates to the approved provider, until the end of 3 years after the last date on which the approved provider operated the education and care service;
- if the record relates to a nominated supervisor or staff member of an education and care service, until the end of 3 years after the last date on which the nominated supervisor or staff member provided education and care on behalf of the service;
- in case of any other record, until the end of 3 years after the date on which the record was made.
How To Store Paper Records and Documents Over a Long Period Of Time
For those of you who are using paper records/documentation, properly storing these documents are important to ensure that they are preserved over a long period of time and to minimise deterioration of the paper.
Humidity, temperature, and light are all great threats to paper and digital media. Storing files in an environment that is clean, protected from light, protected from pests, with humidity levels between 30-50 per cent and below 75 degrees is required for long-term preservation of files.
Paper files should have paper file covers, archival files should be stored in acid-free cardboard or in plastic packaging that does not give off chemicals.
Here are some tips for file storage:
- Store files in an environment with temperatures below 75 degrees
- Store files in an environment with humidity levels below 50%
- Store files in an area that is protected from UV rays and intense light
- Handle files with clean and dry hands
- Do not use adhesive tape to repair tears, it causes discolouring
- Use polyester, polyethylene or polypropylene plastic sleeves to isolate photos or other documents
- Use stainless steel or plastic pins/clips to avoid rusting
- Store files in alkaline packaging to slow deterioration of acidic paper
- Keep out pests by leaving food and drink out of the storage area and shelving files 15 cm above the ground
- Store in corrugated board storage boxes to protect from humidity and temperature fluctuations
- Use offsite storage for archival and inactive file
- Make sure files are secure and are confidential
- Photocopy all valuable documents
- Ensure files are safe from flooding and other natural phenomena
- Organize and index files before storing
- Continually monitor files
How To Store Digital Records and Documents Over a Long Period Of Time
For those of you using digital records and digital documentation, here are a few tips on the best way these can be stored long term:
- Make regular backups. Back up your devices on a regular schedule. Ideally, you should make more than one, keeping one at an offsite location.
- Make archives. Store photos, video, and audio to whatever media seems most sensible, whether optical, flash or traditional hard drives. Test those copies at least every two years, migrate those archives to fresh (or perhaps different) media every three to five years.
- Make copies. Make more than one copy of your archive – if one has a problem, it’s unlikely the other will have the same problem. Consider using different storage media for different copies.
- Store your archives in a cool, dry place. It doesn’t have to be a climate controlled room, but big changes in temperature and humidity reduce media lifespans.
- Request regular backups of your social media activity. Store them with your archived files.
- Convert documents and media out of proprietary formats. Open formats more likely to be supported in the distant future.
- Consider encrypting your archive. This has a potentially huge downside: if you lose your password – or decryption software isn’t available in the future — you lose everything. But, if done right, you aren’t vulnerable if your archive is lost or stolen.
All records and documentation should be stored in a safe and secure place, where it won't be damaged however it can be easily accessed over the period of time if necessary. The information kept in storage under these Regulations should not be divulged or communicated directly or indirectly with others (exemptions do apply - Regulation 182).
National Regulations, Chapter 4, Part 4.7, SubDivision 4
Storing Physical Files, The Storage Guys, 23 July 2016
Duncan, Geoff "How to preserve your digital life for decades", Digital Trends, 15 March 2014