Establishment and Functions
The Public Record Office was established under the provisions of the Public Records Act 1973, proclaimed on 17 April 1973. The Office assumed functions previously administered by the Archives Division of the State Library (VA 2923). The Office was transferred from the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) to the Department of Property and Services (VA 430) in 1978. Following the abolition of the Department of Property and Services (VA 430) in 1991, the Public Record Office was transferred to the Ministry for the Arts (VA 1025).
Following significant machinery of government changes following the election of the Kennett Government in October 1992, the Ministry for the Arts (VA 1025) was abolished. Under Administrative Arrangements Order No. 114 (published in the Victorian Government Gazette no. S 53, 9 October 1992), the Public Record Office was transferred to the newly created Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism (VA 3095).
The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism was abolished following the re-election of the Kennett Government in April 1996. Under Administrative Arrangements Order No.150, effective 3 April 1996, most of the arts functions of the Department, including public records, were transferred to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039). While the Public Record Office transferred departments, it continued to report to the Minister for Arts.
Following machinery of government changes after the re-election of the Bracks Government in December 2002, the Public Record Office was transferred to the Department for Victorian Communities (VA 4562). The Minister for Victorian Communities was assigned the Public Records Act 1973. This change was published as part of Administrative Arrangements Order No. 183 in the Victorian Government Gazette No. S 252, 30 December 2002.
In December 2006, following the re-election of the Bracks Government, the Public Record Office was transferred back into the Department of Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039) under Administrative Arrangements Order no. 192. Responsibility for the Public Records Act 1973 was assigned to the Minister for the Arts. These changes were published in the Victorian Government Gazette No. S 317, 5 December 2006.
In 2013 the Governor in Council, by Administrative Arrangements Order (No. 216) 2013, split responsibility for administration of the Public Records Act 1973 between the Minister of the Arts and the Premier with effect from 20 March 2013 (Table 4, Item 1). Subsequently, with effect from 16 April 2013, the Premier became responsible for administration of the Act specifically "in so far as it relates to public records in the possession of, transferred from or to be transferred from Cabinet Secretariat", and the Minister of the Arts for everything else (Table 2, Items 1 and 2). These changes took place in the context of machinery of government changes effected by the Coalition government following a change of Premier from the Hon Ted Baillieu MLA to the Hon Denis Napthine MLA (Victoria Government Gazette No. S 228, 25 June 2013).
Following the November 2014 election and change of government, the Public Record Office remained responsible to the Premier for administration of the Public Records Act 1973 in relation to records of the Cabinet Secretariat. In relation to all other records, administration of the Act was removed from the portfolio of the Minister of the Arts and transferred to the Special Minister of State through Administrative Arrangements Order (No. 219) 2014, effective on 1 January 2015 (Victoria Government Gazette No. S 460, 24 December 2014).
The Public Record Office is the State's archives authority. It regulates the disposal and management of the records of government departments and authorities, the State's courts, municipalities, public schools, public hospitals and other public offices falling within the ambit of the Public Records Act 1973. It identifies records worthy of preservation as the archives of the State and makes arrangements for their preservation in perpetuity. It takes custody of records no longer required for current administrative purposes and provides access to records released for public inspection.