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Heritage identification and protection

Agencies : Statutory

National State of the Environment (SoE) reports provide information about environmental and heritage conditions, trends and pressures for the Australian continent, surrounding seas and Australia's external territories. The Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, is required to table a report in Parliament every five years on the State of the Environment. National reports are currently available for the years 1996, 2001, 2006 together with a progress report for 2011, and access to equivalent state and territory SoE reports are also available on the site.


The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) web page Heritage organisations provides an overview of heritage protection in Australia. 


The Australian Governments Heritage home page has links to government heritage agencies. The Australian Heritage Places Inventory (AHPI) also contains links to State, Territory and National Heritage, Commonwealth Heritage and World Heritage. You can use  ‘Search’ to locate items on Commonwealth, State and Territory Heritage Registers and this web page can be used to search by placename, address, local and/or government area or by key word search such as church, hall, monument or mine.. Although most government registers are available in paper format these are not widely distributed or always easily accessible. The DEWHA National heritage organisations has links to government and non government organisations.


Visit Movable cultural heritage for more information on the protection of Australia’s movable heritage or write to Cultural Property Section, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601, or email


Visit the DEWHA home page and you can click on Heritage to get to the heritage home page. The Department is responsible for the Australian Heritage Council. The Department administers a number of Acts which protect aspects of the National Estate including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984, the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC). If you go to the heritage home page you can click on the various tabs to find out all sorts of things, for example Indigenous heritage or Historic shipwrecks or the EPBC.


The Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand (HCOANZ) at their 25-26 February 2010 meeting agreed to launch the Australian Heritage Information (AHI) website. The AHI web page, a Commonwealth led project under the Cooperative National Heritage Agenda (CNHA), is now live.


Hosted on the DEWHA website, this portal has been developed to provide a central point of access to the wealth of useful heritage tools, guidelines, heritage registers, other resources and publications that jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, have produced individually or collaboratively. Targeted audiences include heritage place owners and managers, students/teachers, researchers and local governments. The site also includes a search tool for the existing Australian Heritage Places Inventory (AHPI), and contact information and websites for other heritage organisations.


The new Australian National Shipwrecks Database (ANSDB) was launched in December 2009. This database includes all known shipwrecks in Australian waters. In 2010, the new ANSDB will allow you to search for historic shipwrecks protected by Commonwealth or State/Territory legislation using a simplified GIS mapping tool.


To view information about the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 click on Act, and visit shipwreck programs for information including funding. A useful web site for further information on a particular wreck visit shipwreck then click on the State or Territory database where the shipwreck is located.


DEWHA has funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage. The Indigenous Heritage program (IHP) is an Australian Government initiative that supports the identification, conservation, and promotion (where appropriate) of Indigenous heritage.


Many local governments have a Heritage Advisory Committee. Such committees usually include interested members of the community. By becoming involved in such a committee, members of local historical societies can contribute to the identification and protection of local heritage assets.