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Heritage identification and protection

Commonwealth Government

Legislation

The Australian Heritage Council is a body of heritage experts established by the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003. The Council replaced the Australian Heritage Commission as the Australian Government’s independent expert advisory body on heritage matters when the new Commonwealth heritage system was introduced in 2004 under amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

 

The Council plays a key role in assessment, advice and policy formulation and support of major heritage programs. Its main responsibilities are to:

assess places for the National Heritage List and the Commonwealth Heritage List

nominate places for inclusion in the National Heritage List or Commonwealth Heritage List

promote the identification, assessment, conservation and monitoring of heritage

advise the Minister on various heritage matters including the preparation and amendment of heritage strategies and management plans for Commonwealth areas and agencies.

 

Detailed information about heritage laws is available from the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).  

 

 

Register

Under its legislation, the Australian Heritage Council was charged with maintaining the Register of the National Estate (RNE). The RNE consists of places assessed to have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance or other special value for future generations as well as for the present community. The RNE was frozen from February 2007 as a result of amendments to the EPBC Act, that is, no places can now be added to or removed from the RNE.

 

The EPBC Act provided for the establishment of the National Heritage List (NHL) and Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL). The first list contains places or groups of places found to have outstanding national heritage significance whereas the latter comprises places that are entirely within a Commonwealth area or outside the Australian jurisdiction and which are owned or leased by the Commonwealth, and have one or more Commonwealth Heritage values (see below under “Commonwealth Heritage List criteria”). The Department (DEWHA) administers the NHL and CHL on behalf of the Minister.

 

National Heritage List criteria

The National Heritage criteria for a place are any or all of the following:

(a) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(b) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(c) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(d) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of:

(i) a class of Australia’s natural or cultural places; or

(ii) a class of Australia’s natural or cultural environments;

(e) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics valued by a community or cultural group;

(f) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period;

(g) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons;

(h) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(i) the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance as part of Indigenous tradition.

NOTE: the cultural aspect of a criterion means the Indigenous cultural aspect, the non-Indigenous cultural aspect, or both.

 

Commonwealth Heritage List criteria

The Commonwealth Heritage criteria for a place are any or all of the following:

(a) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(b) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(c) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(d) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of:

(i) a class of Australia’s natural or cultural places; or

(ii) a class of Australia’s natural or cultural environments;

(e) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics valued by a community or cultural group;

(f) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period;

(g) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons;

(h) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Australia’s natural or cultural history;

(i) the place has significant heritage value because of the place’s importance as part of Indigenous tradition.

NOTE: the cultural aspect of a criterion means the Indigenous cultural aspect, the non-Indigenous cultural aspect, or both.

 

To search if a place is on a Commonwealth or State government heritage list go to AHPI and click on Search. This provides information about places that are in the RNE, the Commonwealth and National Heritage Lists, and in state and local government listings.

 

Anyone can nominate a place with outstanding heritage values, to the National Heritage List, including the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts and the Australian Heritage Council. Nominations must set out the qualities or values of the place that makes it outstanding to the nation by indicating how the place meets one or more of the National Heritage criteria (see above).  Information on how to nominate a place to the National Heritage List (or Commonwealth Heritage List) is on the Department’s website.

 

Responsibilities

The Australian Heritage Council responsibilities are to identify, conserve, improve and present the national estate, assess nominations for addition to the Commonwealth and National Heritage Lists, to advise and provide administration support to the Commissioners and advise the Commonwealth on matters relating to heritage places.

 

Government heritage grant programs

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) is responsible for Federal Government cultural heritage grants relating to places.

 

The major sources of Australian Government funding for activities that benefit Australia’s heritage are:

 

Web page(s) and Australian Heritage Council address

The Australian Heritage Council home page and DEWHA’s Heritage home page are different.

For more information write to the Australian Heritage Council, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601 or phone (02) 6274 1111.

Other agencies

The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) met for the first time on 2 May 2002. The Council consists of the federal, states and territories environment and heritage ministers and its role is to manage and protect Australia’s environment and natural, indigenous and historic cultural heritage. This includes developing an integrated national heritage policy, promoting heritage tourism and developing effective incentive for the conservation of heritage places by governments, industry and the community.

 

EPHC addresses natural, Indigenous and historic heritage matters in a national context.

 

A further review of all ministerial councils is currently being conducted under the auspices of the Council of Australian Governments. The outcomes of this review may have implications for the role, structure and title of EPHC.

 

The Grants to Voluntary Environment and Heritage Organisations (GVEHO) program helps eligible community based environment and heritage organisations to value, conserve and protect Australia’s natural environment and historic heritage by assisting with their administrative funding.

 

Funds provided through the GVEHO program may be used to assist with

salaries and salary on-costs for executive and administrative staff

office accommodation rental

electricity, gas, phone and other similar charges

essential office supplies and equipment

staff and volunteer training

photocopying and printing costs

and travel costs incurred on behalf of the organisation

 

Further information about the GVEHO program can be obtained by contacting the GVEHO Program Team on email gveho@environment.gov.au or telephone 02 6274 2422.