Communities and Justice

Information Sheet 3:Digital Records Transfer


This information sheet outlines the obligations and requirements to transfer digital client records for children, young people and their carers from your agency to DCJ (on behalf of the Secretary).

The detailed arrangements for the transfer of digital client records will need to be discussed directly with your agency.

Refer also to statutory out-of-home care - Designated Agency Hardcopy Records Transfer to DCJ Information Sheet No: 2 in relation to paper records. There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government Records Repository to facilitate arrangements for the transfer of paper records.

Legislative basis for good records management

Creation and maintenance of complete and accurate records relating to services for children and young people is essential to support the ongoing care, interests, rights and entitlements of the child or young person in statutory out-of-home care, as well as the legal and accountability requirements of the designated agency.

Sections 160 and 170 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 provides the legislative basis for the maintenance and retention of records.

Section 160 states:

Each designated agency must ensure that written, photographic and other records relating to the development, history and identity of a child and young person for whom the Minister has parental responsibility and for whom it has supervisory responsibility are maintained and are accessible to the child or young person.

The NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care 2015 outline a number of requirements in relation to recordkeeping. The standards can be accessed in full from the NSW Children’s Guardian website.

Delivery of records to DCJ under section 170

Designated agencies (also referred to as “the agency”) must keep records made by them in relation to the placement of a child or young person in statutory out-of-home care for a period of seven years after ceasing to be responsible for the placement[1]. After the seven years, the agency must deliver these records to DCJ for ongoing management.

This obligation applies to any agency that ceases to be a designated agency provider of statutory for out-of-home care. At the cessation of statutory out-of-home care service provision, the agency must deliver relevant records to DCJ for ongoing management.

Business systems

Designated agencies will have varied means of storing records related to the services being provided to children, young people and their carers. Some of this information may be being stored in business systems.

DCJ is unable to accommodate the transfer of whole business system databases. Information in these systems will need to be converted to acceptable digital formats (listed in the Transfer preparation section) prior to transfer to DCJ.

Where records to be transferred for the same child or young person are a combination of both Hard Copy and digital records, there must be a clear linkage/cross reference between the Hard Copy and digital files.

Where records to be transferred for the same child or young person are stored in both Hard Copy and digital formats (duplicated), it is up to the agency to decide which format will be transferred to DCJ.

For any enquiries about technical aspects of the business systems in use, please contact DCJ.

Transfer preparation

The designated agency needs to identify the:

  • digital records for transfer to DCJ under section 170
  • measures being taken to transfer the records to DCJ.
  • proposed timeframe for the delivery of the records

Steps to transfer client digital records to DCJ

  • The designated agency needs to identify their client recordkeeping systems and the support required to transfer the digital records (including metadata) in a migratable form to ensure ongoing access to the records.
  • The designated agency should discuss with DCJ about the migration schedule and security measures to safely transfer the digital records.

Costs related to the transfer of digital records to DCJ

  • Designated agencies will be required to meet the costs associated with extraction and delivery of digital records to DCJ
  • DCJ will meet the costs related to the receipt, secure transfer and ongoing storage of information provided by designated agencies
  • The designated agency will need to review the format and delivery of the digital records to be transferred to DCJ


The designated agency should carefully identify and only transfer client digital records for which case management responsibility are ending.

Additionally, the agency should identify all the relevant data sources that their recordkeeping system(s) relies on, in order to ensure that complete datasets are included in the scope of the transfer.

Quality Assurance

The agency should verify the quality of the digital records, in order to preserve the characteristics that are critical to the records’ meaning, use or organisational value. For example, Excel spreadsheets with missing column headers are considered unusable and incomplete.

If the relevant recordkeeping system(s) contains categorisation of information, for example grouping of documents into health, education, etc., the grouping should be maintained in the packaged data as sub-folders, or as metadata associated with each document within the relevant group.


Where a transfer involves the records of multiple children or young people, extreme care must be taken to ensure that the information for each client is clearly identified and separated.

All the digital records pertaining to each child or young person held by the agency, including associated documents, images, email, texts, video etc., should be packaged together within a single digital folder.

Folder formats

Each child or young person’s digital folder should be compressed prior to transferring its content to DCJ. The preferred format is .zip.

Each Zip file should be titled with:

  • DCJ ID
  • LAST NAME (Capitalised)
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth (xx/month/year)
  • For example: 594876 – JONES, John – 21 May 1999

File formats

DCJ has adopted current best practice in managing digital formats to inform the process of transferring digital records back to DCJ. Information stored in the most recent version of these formats benefits any subsequent migration.

  • Document and text formats:
    • Plain text (.txt)
    • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
    • Microsoft Word Processing (.docx)
    • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Spreadsheet formats:
    • Comma separated values (.csv);
    • Microsoft Excel (.xlsx)
  • Presentation formats:
    • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
    • Open Document Format (.odp)
  • Image Formats:
    • JPEG (.jpg, jpeg);
    • Tagged image file format (.tif, .tiff)
  • Audio Formats:
    • MPEG 1/2 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3);
    • MPEG-4 (.mp4)
    • WAVE (.wav) using an LPCM codec
    • Lossless audio formats (eg FLAC)
  • Video Formats:
    • MPEG-4 (.mp4)
  • Email Formats:
    • MIME (.eml)

Other digital formats

For enquiries about other digital formats, especially if you are not using Microsoft Office products, please contact DCJ Records management to determine their acceptability. If they are not acceptable, then those digital records may need to be converted into one of the acceptable formats, or possibly converted/printed to paper form for transfer with paper files. For additional advice on migration of records between digital formats, the NSW State Archives and Records migration methodology may provide helpful information on migration planning, test strategy, and quality assurance.

Transfer process

Designated agencies should contact DCJ to advise of the impending transfer of digital records to DCJ, identifying the clients, items, formats, size and expected timeframe of the transfer. As well, a manifest to support the transfer process will need to be completed. Please contact DCJ to discuss how this can be done.

Transfer logs

  • DCJ will provide an Item Transfer List in Excel format for the agency to fill out. The purpose this spreadsheet is to track, trace and check, and also to help define context and relationships of the data transferred.
  • For each set of digital records due for transfer, the agency must provide a summary listing of each individual child or young person’s details due for transfer. This should contain the name, date of birth, ChildStory ID number (or other DCJ number). The format of this listing will be specified by DCJ.

Transfer mechanism

Records will need to be transferred securely via the secure file sharing platform Kiteworks. Please contact DCJ Records management to receive a transfer link.

Transfer frequency

To minimise administrative burden for designated agencies, DCJ recommends that digital file transfers occur once per year for all that have reached the 7 year transfer point during the previous 12 months.

Retrieval process

Under the MOU, a designated agency can request permission from DCJ for retrieval of client records. The designated agency must complete the records retrieval form (see copy attached to this information sheet) and send it through to DCJ.  Completion of the record retrieval form involves:

  • client details (Reference number, full name of client, DOB)
  • reason for the request (e.g. aftercare support)
  • timeframe for delivery
  • designated agency contact officer details, organisation delivery address and contact number
  • signature of the delegated officer of the designated agency

The designated agency needs to:

  • identify the digital records for retrieval from DCJ under section 170.
  • discuss with DCJ the timeframe for the delivery of the records
  • identify the measures to deliver the retrieved records

Steps to retrieve digital records from DCJ

  • It is often the case that designated agencies will securely retain a copy of digital records transferred to DCJ and therefore it is less likely that retrieval of a copy digital record is required.
  • Where a copy of the record is required please contact DCJ to discuss the arrangements.

Other related Information Sheets for designated agencies

  • Statutory out-of-home care Designated Agency Recordkeeping Information Sheet No: 1
  • Statutory out-of-home care Designated Agency Hardcopy Records Transfer to DCJ Information Sheet No: 2
  • Statutory out-of-home care Designated Agency Digital Systems Recordkeeping Information Sheet No: 4
  • Statutory out-of-home care - Designated Agency Recordkeeping FAQs Information Sheet No: 5

Key records transfer resources

Further advice

DCJ will work collaboratively with designated agencies to help them meeting their legislative obligations under s.170 with the management and transfer of OOHC records for children and young people.

There is a dedicated Records Management Team within DCJ who are subject matter experts and can assist with your specific agency queries.

Discussions on recordkeeping will occur in consultation with your agency’s DCJ Contract Manager and the DCJ Records Management Team.

For specific information about the record transfer or retrieval process or technical and logistical support, please contact our Records Management via E-mail:

Last updated:

19 Sep 2023