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Heritage identification and protection



Heritage Act 1995

Planning and Environment Act (1987)

Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

Heritage Council

Heritage Council of Victoria, an independent statutory body and the State’s main decision-making body on cultural (non-Indigenous) heritage issues. The 10 members receive professional advice and administrative support from Heritage Victoria, Department of Planning and Community Development.


The Council


Acts as the primary source of advice to the Minister for Planning on heritage issues

Decides which places and objects are added to the Victorian Heritage Register, and operates in accordance with the Victorian Heritage Act.

Hears appeals on permit applications determined by Heritage Victoria

Approves or rejects recommendations for loans and grants from the Heritage Fund for registered heritage places

Promotes public understanding of Victoria’s cultural heritage and conducts community education and information programs.


The Victorian Heritage Register lists the state’s most significant historic places, objects and shipwrecks. Under the Heritage Act, ‘place’ includes buildings, gardens, trees, archaeological sites, shipwrecks, precincts and land. A heritage object can include furniture, shipwreck relics, archaeological artefacts, equipment, transport vehicles, and articles of every day use that contribute to an understanding of Victoria’s history. Objects can be registered in association with heritage places, or in their own right.


Heritage Victoria maintains a list of all known historical archaeology sites in Victoria called the Victorian Heritage Inventory, commonly known as the Heritage Inventory (HI).


The Heritage Inventory, which lists over 5000 sites, can be searched via the Victorian Heritage Database.

What is included on the Register

The register includes buildings, places, objects, cemeteries, precincts, shipwrecks and historical archaeological sites. The Victorian Heritage Database can be searched.


Anyone can nominate a place to the Heritage Register, but to be successful nominations must address the criteria for assessment of cultural heritage significance adopted by the Heritage Council.

Criteria for inclusion on the register

A place or object has ‘heritage significance’ if it satisfies one or more of the following heritage significance criteria:


  1. Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history

  2. Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria’s cultural history.

  3. Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria’s cultural history.

  4. Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places or objects.

  5. Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics.

  6. Importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

  7. Strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. This includes the significance of a place to Indigenous peoples as part of their continuing and developing cultural traditions.

  8. Special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Victoria’s history.

Visit for information on the guidelines for nominations, the register, the criteria and significance.


Heritage Victoria is a Victorian State Government agency and is part of the Department of Planning and Community Development, whereas the Heritage Council is an independent statutory authority established under the Heritage Act.


Heritage Victoria is the agency which:


recommends places and objects for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register as part of the assessment and registration processes

issues permits to alter or make other changes to heritage places and objects

provides funding assistance for heritage projects

manages historic shipwrecks and relics

is responsible for protecting Victoria’s archaeological heritage

promotes community understanding of the Heritage Act

provides educational services, resources and support for heritage related projects

conserves significant artefacts and objects


Heritage Victoria identifies, protects and interprets Victoria’s most significant cultural heritage resources. It advises private owners, local and State government, industry and the general community on heritage matters. Heritage Victoria’s aim is to make heritage identification, protection and management accessible and easily understood.

Government heritage grant programs

Funding programs are available to assist owners and managers of recognised and protected heritage places and objects. Funding is also available for local councils, for interpretation and collection management. Victoria’s heritage grants has more information, one of big interest to historical societies would be Community collection management and another would be Community collections training. For those in the metropolitan area the Melbourne Heritage Restoration Fund might be of interest. For more information on funding resources check out this web page and this link. This information is to help applicants and recipients of project grants awarded by us. For queries about grants and conservation management plans, contact the Assistance Programs Unit, Heritage Victoria, on 03 8644 8809 or email

Web page(s) and government agency addresses

Heritage places in Victoria lists the places in Victoria on the World and National heritage lists, State government heritage agencies, database, legislation and non-statutory heritage sites with links.


Heritage Victoria has useful web pages on shipwrecks, archaeology, funding and heritage places and objects.

For more information write to the Department of Planning and Community Development, Level 4, 55 Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 or write to PO Box 2392, Melbourne, VIC 3001 or phone (03) 8644 8809 or email

Other statutory listings

Local government authorities protect local buildings and places of local historic significance by identifying them in local planning schemes. If a site is not of ‘state significance’, then it won’t get onto the Heritage Register. However, places of heritage significance to a locality can be protected by a Heritage Overlay. Heritage Overlays are contained within local council planning schemes and assist in protecting the heritage of a municipality. Heritage Overlays include places of local significance as well as places included in the Victorian Heritage Register.


The Victorian Government introduced the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. This Act replaces Part IIA of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the State Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972. The Act links the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage more directly with planning and land development processes.


Aboriginal heritage places are not always identified within Heritage Overlay controls so check first with your local Council. You can find out whether there is an Aboriginal place recorded on your property by contacting Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV).


The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 commenced operation on the 28 May 2007 and provides for the protection and management of Victoria’s Aboriginal heritage with streamlined processes linked to the Victorian planning system


The key features of the Act are:

Non-statutory registers

The National Trust of Australia (Vic) aim is to conserve Victoria’s built and natural heritage for future generations. On the website you can search the National Trust Register, find information on the latest news, upcoming events, how to become a member of the Trust, a list of properties managed by the Trust, a special education section for teachers and students, tours held by the National Trust and an archive of media releases. For information you can write to 4 Parliament Place, Melbourne VIC 3000 ring the Trust by dialling (03) 9654 4711 or send an e-mail to


The Art Deco Society Inc is actively involved in preservation of Art Deco buildings including listing buildings with the National Trust and Heritage Victoria.

Other agencies and grants

Check with your local government authority for community grants, other relevant funding and what helpful publications they might have.