Access Management Framework for University of Melbourne Archives Collections

1. University of Melbourne Archives Collection

  1. The University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) collection is comprised of University Archives and archival collections acquired from external organisations and individuals by donation, loan or purchase (hereafter deposited collections/transferred by a depositor).
  2. University Archives are University Records approved for retention by Archives that have been transferred to University of Melbourne Archives.

2. Scope of this Access Management Framework

  1. This Access Management Framework applies to University Archives and all deposited collections.
  2. University Records that are not University Archives are outside the scope of this Access Management Framework.
  1. University Archives are subject to the Public Records Act 1973. The Act provides for the closure of access to some public records at the point of transfer to the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) under S9, S10 and S10AA and the restriction of access to records in agency (e.g. University) custody. This is explained in the access standards and advice provided by the PROV.
  2. University Archives and deposited collections are exempt from the operational provisions of the Victorian Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the Health Records Act 2001.
  3. University Archives and deposited collections are subject to the provisions of the Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982.

4. Ethical Framework and Values

  1. Although there are no legal requirements to restrict or close access to University of Melbourne Archives collections industry standards and ethical guidance indicate circumstances in which it may be appropriate to restrict or close access to certain categories of material in archival collections.
  2. The Information Privacy Principles under the Victorian Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 provide a framework for defining personal and sensitive information.
  3. The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research sets out institutions’ responsibility to have a ‘policy on the ownership of, and access to, databases and archives that is consistent with confidentiality requirements, legislation, privacy rules and other guidelines’.
  4. The University of Melbourne Management of Research Data and Records Policy sets out researchers’ responsibilities with regard to research data and records.
  5. University of Melbourne Archives values the code of ethics issued by the Australian Society of Archivists.
  6. University of Melbourne Archives values ‘minimal and non-discriminatory, though fully respected, restrictions on the use of collections.’

5. Principles of Access

  1. Collections are generally available for research unless the principle of open access is outweighed by competing principles. Such principles are:
  2. Respect for the safety and integrity of the records, the interests of the University and of depositors, privacy, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.
  3. Individuals (or their proven representatives) may access material or information about themselves (or the person represented).
  4. Depositors, the University (including the Archives) and researchers have a shared responsibility to support appropriate access to collections.
  5. Researchers using UMA collections are expected to use archives in a lawful, ethical and responsible manner.
  6. Reasonable effort will be made to minimise the impact of restrictions on these principles.

6. Operating and service context

  1. This is a framework for exercising care, diligence, and equity in providing access to Archives collections.
  2. This framework is applied in an operating context constrained by available resources.
  3. In some circumstances the Archives may not be able to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

7. General Conditions of Access

  1. Subject to restrictions outlined below, access to collections held by archives (‘archival collections’) will be generally available for research, including use by the general public and depositors or their nominees.
  2. No person is to obtain access to Archives before completing and signing an access form showing: name, address, occupation, subject of enquiry, material made available, date of access, authority for access (where applicable) and an undertaking to fulfil requirements of access.
  3. Information from the archival collections is to be used only for the general purpose specified when access is sought.
  4. In all cases where material is written from the archival collections, acknowledgment must be made by reference to the UMA and to the name of the particular collection used.
  5. Researchers must provide UMA with citation details for their research outputs based on research using UMA collections and may provide the UMA with a copy of the work cited.
  6. Researchers require permission to publish collections or parts of collections.
  7. Permission to copy Open collections is granted on the understanding that any copies will be for personal research use only and will not be published including publication online or using social media.
  8. For restricted access material, researchers require special permission to copy for personal research use and may be required to meet special conditions.

8. Categories of restricted access that may be applied

  1. University Archives less than thirty years since latest creation date
  2. University Archives less than thirty years old since latest creation date, unless these are designated Open by, or permission is obtained from, the University Secretary.

  3. Agreements
  4. Restrictions placed by a depositor.

  5. Personal or private records
  6. Personal or private records in some categories are closed when they are transferred to the PROV, for the lifetime or working life of the person concerned. This is usually applied in bulk to series of records of a consistent type and format that can be clearly identified. This provides a model for protecting privacy in some University Archives and other corporate or organisational archives. Where possible, UMA will through dialogue with creators and depositors aim to identify groups of records that need to be closed or restricted due to privacy before they are transferred to UMA. Personal or private information in some collections especially personal papers can be less easy to identify due to complex or idiosyncratic contents and arrangement. The National Archives of Australia provide more detailed guidelines for identifying at file or item level ‘information or material relating to personal affairs that it would be unreasonable to disclose’ encompassing in some circumstances information about people who are no longer living. Especially when undertaking detailed assessment at file or item level UMA will follow and adapt the approach developed by the National Archives of Australia as outlined in their Access Examination Policy, personal, business and professional affairs of a person.

  7. Community standards
  8. Material that is distressing or offensive according to community standards, for example medically or sexually explicit images.

  9. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage.
  10. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage that is known to be culturally sensitive or restricted by agreement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guardians of that heritage.

  11. Preservation
  12. Unacceptable risk to the safety, preservation or integrity of a collection or part of a collection.

  13. Defamation
  14. A collection or part of a collection may contain defamatory information and access may be restricted due to the risk of legal action against the University or a depositor. Depositors will be asked to identify defamatory material in deposited collections.

  15. Business confidentiality and security
  16. A collection or part of a collection may be restricted because it contains confidential business or secure information. Guidance about the closure of public records under Section 10 and Section 10AA of the Public Records Act provides some examples but only a subset may be relevant to UMA. For example: information that will prejudice intergovernmental relations, law enforcement, information obtained under legal professional privilege,  trade secrets or other business, commercial or financial information that will disadvantage business dealings, or unlawful disclosure. UMA generally expects the depositor to identify confidential and secure information in deposited collections. This category of restricted access is most likely to be relevant to records of a recent date (e.g. less than thirty years old).

9.  Access Status and Special Conditions

  1. Initial access status is applied by University of Melbourne Archives at collection level:
    1. Open - the Collection is open for research in the Reading Room. Researchers are required to sign an access agreement.
    2. Restricted (or Part Restricted) – special conditions of access apply to the collection or part of the collection. Access may be granted if the special conditions are met.
    3. Closed (or Part Closed): the collection (or part of it) is closed for research for a specified period of time.
  2. Special conditions to obtain access to restricted collections may need to be met and any or all of these may apply. For example:
    1. permission from a collection depositor
    2. permission from a third party
    3. permission from the University Archivist or delegate
    4. completion of a deed of undertaking
    5. whether or not copying is included in permission to access
    6. form of access (e.g. access to a digital surrogate instead of the original item).
  3. UMA will assess whether or not detailed assessment is required to identify restrictions, to comply with special conditions or to better target the restriction.