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What is records disposal?

Once public records are no longer required by a Victorian government agency for current business use, the agency will need to decide whether the records should be:

  • stored by the agency pending destruction or transfer
  • transferred to another agency
  • transferred to PROV to be preserved as state archives or
  • destroyed.

Collectively all of these actions are known as records ‘disposal’.

Disposal is a key component of good information practice and mitigates the risk of security breaches. Data and records must be securely managed until they can be lawfully disposed. Regular and managed disposal reduces the information management overhead, storage costs and aids the discovery of reliable, relevant and accurate information.

See Disposal Standard for further information.


To help decide what records disposal action to take, your agency should:

Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) are standards authorising the legal disposal of public records.

RDAs specify the minimum retention time for records and those records to be transferred to PROV for preservation as state archives.

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has issued over 100 RDAs for use by agencies covered by the Public Records Act 1973.

RDAs apply to either agency-specific functions or a function conducted by many agencies. Typically agencies will use a combination of disposal authorities to meet their needs.

At a minimum, all agencies can use PROS 07/01 Common Administrative Functions RDA.

Many of our RDAs are scoped by 'Function' rather than agency so they are applicable through machinery of government changes without further authorisation by PROV. Refer to the Function description(s) which specify the functional scope of each RDA to determine whether it is applicable to your agency’s records.

A number of our RDAs however have been issued for use by a specific agency(s) especially if administrative change is minimal, e.g. PROS 16/04 Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal RDA. Some of our more recent RDAs specify which agencies may use the RDA in the ‘Scope’ section.

Contact us to request that the scope of an existing RDA be expanded upon to include your agency if required. We will provide you with an appraisal report template to document the request.

If your records can not be covered by the extension of an existing RDA please see our RDA development step-by-step advice.


See Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) page for further information.

Browse and search our RDAs in our Document Library.


Agencies can work with PROV to develop a new RDA to cover records of an ongoing agency function if it is not already covered by an existing RDA. 

Contact us to seek advice before commencing this process. It is sometimes possible to extend coverage of pre-existing authorities to additional agencies.

See Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) development step-by-step for further information.

Agencies can apply for a Single Instance Disposal Authority (SIDA) to assess whether records must be kept as state archives or not.

This type of disposal authority may be applied for if there is no existing disposal coverage and the records relate to a function that is no longer performed by government.

See PRO 46A Request for Disposal Authority (Single Instance) Form and PRO 46B Request for a Disposal Authority – Appraisal Report (Single Instance) Form.

Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) is a method approved by PROV that permits the destruction of low-level records, e.g. working documents, rough notes, extra copies of records kept solely for reference.

Agencies must ensure that all staff understand NAP and can apply it correctly.

See Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) for further information.

Common disposal questions

A well developed disposal programme can improve practices across your agency.

Benefits include:

  • enhancing access to existing records by only retaining required records
  • reducing storage and maintenance costs
  • reducing risk to agencies by ensuring records are managed appropriately and legislative requirements are being met
  • improving identification of records required for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and subpoenas.

The Appraisal Statement for Public Records Required as State Archives Policy specifies in summary the records required for permanent retention as state archives.

When developing a disposal authority agencies consider the typical characteristics of permanent records outlined in the appraisal statement to identify the records required as state archives.

A transfer can take place once your agency is certain the records have been classified as permanent under an RDA and they are no longer required for current business use.

See Transferring records to PROV for further information.

Records affected by administrative change (also known as machinery of government) should be transferred to the new agency. Transferring agencies should implement disposal action prior to transfer.

See Privatisation if the proposed transfer is to a non-Victorian government agency.

Destruction of records can take place under NAP or once the minimum retention period for the records has expired as outlined under an RDA.

See the Destruction topic page for further information.

Retention and disposal authorities (RDAs)

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Standards authorising the disposal of public records

RDA development step-by-step

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The process of developing Retention and Disposal Authorities

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples