FACS funded services retention of records

The new FACS Contract Governance Framework 4.3 Achieving performance through Service Delivery (page 44) Section 11.1(a) states that the Service Provider must establish and maintain clear operational records for each Program, in a form that meets appropriate record-keeping standards and all applicable legislative requirements. Records should be retained for a period of seven years after the expiry or termination of the Funding Deed, or as otherwise specified in writing by FACS. In the event that the service provider ceases to operate, the records should remain accessible to FACS for seven years after the expiration of the Deed. Note that case file records relating to children in care should not be destroyed and, if a service folds, should be returned to FACS or transferred to the Government Records Repository (GRR) for archiving purposes.

FACS funded services retention of records
The records of clients who have received a service from FACS funded provider fall within the parameters of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, and the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012.*3 Client records must be retained for seven years after the last delivery of service. In the case of minors under the age of 18 years, the records must be retained until the client has attained the age of 25 years. However, if a service provider is of the opinion that certain records must be kept for longer they should do so and advise FACS District of the circumstances. It is the responsibility of service providers to ensure that they meet their contractual and legal obligations regarding record keeping. Records must be stored in accordance with the relevant legislation. The storage must ensure security and confidentiality of the records. Records must be accessible to any client who seeks access to their information for the required time period. The Guidelines are to assist service providers with that process.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Given the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, providers should be aware of the requirements under section 6K of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth). This requires the retention of documents which may be required as evidence before the Commission and makes it an offence to destroy such documents. This would include case records of allegations or investigations of child sexual abuse matters or related documents. Such documentation should be retained beyond the required retention period on an indefinite basis. It is expected that service providers should be aware that a record falls within this category or should be able to use their experience, good judgement and discretion as to whether records fall within this category and label them for appropriate storage accordingly.

Retention of Aboriginal clients’ records
Providers are encouraged to retain the records of Aboriginal clients born before 1970 indefinitely. This is in recognition of their historical and cultural significance and reflects the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report of the National Inquiry in to the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. Also see Section 3.4 of the Aboriginal Consultation Guide developed by AbSec this relates specifically to Aboriginal children in OOHC.

*2 Source: Hardcopy Records Disposal Procedures, Housing NSW.
*3 The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Privacy Amendment Act) made many significant changes to the Privacy Act 1988. These changes commenced on 12 March 2014.

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