Keeping records of Government activities is vital to ensuring transparency in Government, and holding Governments accountable. Unfortunately, the State Records Office of Western Australia is and has been since its inception 20 years ago, drastically underfunded and unable to perform its core function.
The State Records Office has not been able to accept records since 2001, the same year as it was established. This is very concerning, particularly as the need for better management of records was a key recommendation to come out of the WA Inc Royal Commission. As a result, Government agencies have spent millions on storing their own records, $40 million in the five years to 2019 alone, and a further $8 million on consultants to advise on the management of records, in the same period. Another 1.5km of State Archive records are produced every year and are unable to be stored or made available to the public.
In the 2018-19 and 2019-20 budgets, the State Records Office was allocated a measly sum of around $2 million. This is unacceptable as there is high demand not only for its record retention services, but also for training in how to appropriately manage records. This is a function the State Records Office team would be well-placed to provide, were they resourced appropriately.
The Government must properly fund this essential service.