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Record keeping

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All community organisations will need to keep documents and records.  Requirements to keep certain documents and records may be set out in your organisation's rules, policies or resolutions, funding agreements and other contracts, or in legislation.

There are many sources of record keeping obligations, and this page outlines only some of these. For example, there can be particular laws around health records or records relating to disputes. 

Document retention policies

The following websites have resources on developing a document retention policy

Record keeping for charities

Charities registered with the ACNC have particular record keeping requirements. For incorporated associations, these are in addition to record keeping requirements under state laws for incorporated associations, outlined below. The fact sheet below outlines record keeping for charities. 

The following information is for organisations based in Victoria

The fact sheet below sets out record-keeping requirements for incorporated associations.

Extra sources of record-keeping obligations

  • Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employer must make, and keep for 7 years, employee records in relation to each of its employees, containing the information specified in the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth)

  • The Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic) requires records and accounts relating to a fundraising appeal to be stored in Victoria at the association’s registered office or principal place of business, for 3 years after the date the appeal ends. The records that need to be kept include details of all income/proceeds and expenditure, and the names and addresses of the beneficiaries and the people who managed the appeal.

  • Criminal litigation: The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) requires an organization to retain documents if an office bearer or staff member is aware of any actual or threatened litigation being bought against the organisation or any of its clients: see very broad provision in section 254 of the Crimes Act (destruction of evidence).  Note that to be liable under section 254(1) a person must know that document is, or is reasonably likely to be, required in evidence in a legal proceeding.

  • Other litigation: Typically an action can be brought against a person or entity within 6 years of the cause of action, for example a breach of contract or an act of negligence. Any legal documents that may be relevant if legal action was to be taken (but is not actual or threatened), for example contracts, should be kept for 6 years.

  • Electronic records: Required information can be recorded in electronic form if the conditions in the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (Vic) are satisfied.  For example, information must be useable, accessible, complete and unaltered, able to be reproduced in hard copy.

The following information is for incorporated associations based in NSW

The fact sheet below sets out record keeping requirements for incorporated associations.

There are also record-keeping requirements for various tax concessions, fundraising licenses or permits, in relation to bingo and trade promotions, in relation to employees, and in relation to members. Go to these topics to find out more.