South Australian Vineyard Records are an important biosecurity tool. They are also an educational tool for students studying the Information and Records Management course at the University of South Australia.

Course coordinator Tony Leviston is the Principal Archivist at State Records of South Australia. This year he used historic Vineyard Records as an example for students to learn about the differences between physical and digital records.

Vinehealth Australia is required under the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Act 1995 to maintain a complete Register of vineyards in South Australia. Each year, vineyard owners report on changes to their vineyard holdings to ensure currency of the Register. These ownership holdings are called Vineyard Records.

Vinehealth Australia’s Register is now an electronic database containing vineyard planting information and vineyard maps. But the physical Vineyard Records dating back to the early 1900s are an important part of South Australia’s wine industry history.

“Many records which were once in physical form, written in leather-bound books, are now held in databases. I was familiar with the historic Vineyard Records through my work at State Records,” Tony said.

“We’ve got physical Vineyard Records in our custody that date back 120 years. It is interesting to see how record keeping has transitioned to digital platforms.”

At UniSA, students examine how physical records differ from digital records, how records have changed from being physical to digital, and the importance of physical records.

“In archiving, provenance is important, for example, documenting who the records were created by and when. Registers have significant ongoing archival value,” Tony said.

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Lee said Vineyard Records describing who planted vineyards, when and where is a key part of the South Australian wine industry’s history and ongoing story.

“And an up-to-date Register enables us to work with industry to prepare for an outbreak of a significant pest or disease,” Inca said.

“In the event of an outbreak, the Register is vital in ensuring Vinehealth Australia can quickly contact vineyard owners with relevant information and instructions. This helps to minimise potential impacts on vineyard owners and the broader industry. Accurate and readily accessible information is powerful.”

Tony said students from the course are working towards a postgraduate qualification in archives and record management. “The South Australian Government and larger local councils employ archivists, as do universities, libraries, museums and galleries and some private companies, such as banks and schools,” Tony said.

“Archiving and records management is a niche but important industry, to ensure efficient management of information through its lifecycle and preservation of our history.”