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Responding to COVID-19 – Maintain your distance AND your records

During recent months, usual work patterns have been disrupted as we’ve adapted our work habits and come to terms with the reality of social distancing.

It has also been a period when significant changes have been made to the way the University delivers its teaching and research output.

In finding ways to stay apart while continuing to work together, the University is contributing to the world-wide response to COVID-19 and supporting the SA community’s efforts to deal with the uncertain challenges that are impacting the state.

This is an important moment in history. It will also be an important part of the University’s story. As we experience this in real time, we have a duty to record that story as it is unfolding.

The duty to document

The International Council on Archives recently released a COVID-19 statement declaring that the duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential. The statement emphasises 3 factors that should be addressed by all institutions.

  • Decisions must be documented

Important decisions are being made at the University that fundamentally change the way we operate now and into the future. Good recordkeeping will be relied on by the University when we are asked to account for the changes made. Regulators, such as TEQSA, will want to see how those changes were authorised and the effectiveness of their impact monitored.

  • Records and data must be secured and protected

This is a time unlike any other and the social and economic repercussions will continue to unfold over many years. The work that is being done now, across research, learning and operations will be a permanent part of the University’s story. It will be of interest to future generations of researchers wondering how knowledge of the virus and its impact was gathered and how the pandemic was managed within the community.

  • Digital content must be preserved and remain accessible

Records are more than official documents and increasingly include complex digital materials, social media, and raw data. Their significance into the future should be recognised and efforts made to ensure they are preserved and remain accessible for those who follow.

History will be what we record now

In the coming years, people will look back and want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on the University and how we engaged and contributed to the response. They will want to know how we dealt with the crisis and how it changed what we do. This interest will benefit from a rich stream of records and archival information if we are diligent now and put effort into good recordkeeping practices.

You can find more information about the University’s approach to recordkeeping and data management:

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