Incompetent record keeping is depriving thousands of Victorians of  life-changing information,  but the Department of Human Services has ”a  profound conflict of interest” because fixing the problem would allow a rush of  lawsuits, a parliamentary inquiry was told on Friday.

Some 90 per cent of DHS records are not properly managed, and the increasing  amount of electronic data is making the problem worse, the Victorian inquiry  into how the churches  have handled sex abuse heard.

Debbie Prout of the Records and Information Management Professionals of  Australasia said by law the department had to ensure records were accessible and  discoverable, but the more it did the higher the chance of lawsuits would  be….

Ms Prout said the record deficit particularly impacted on the most  vulnerable, such as former wards of state, who could not find out information  such as surviving relatives or material they could use in seeking  compensation.

She said Ombudsman and Auditor-General’s reports showed that record-keeping  compliance breaches were ”prolific, recurring and have high risk  implications”.

”There is no agency monitoring, no agency compliance reporting, no defined  community complaints process, and the penalties for destruction are  woeful.”

Read more: The Age, April 6, 2013

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