Inputs to heritage management can be assessed by considering the financial, human and other resources that are available for management programs to address pressures and risks to heritage values.

Financial resources

Sound management practices in the heritage system are ultimately determined by available resources, especially funding. It is appropriate that resources are allocated by government because heritage is a public good.

Heritage Victoria has considered the basis for heritage valuation from a cost–benefit perspective:

The economic case for government intervention in heritage lies in the communitywide nature of many of these benefits. The aesthetic quality of a building's heritage facade, for example, will be of value to passers-by as well as to the building's owner. Gard'ner,84 p.2

The intangible nature of many of the benefits associated with heritage means they cannot be captured by the market. As a result they cannot be valued using normal market valuation (pricing) techniques. Gard'ner,84 p.3.

The issues of who pays for heritage conservation and who is responsible (the owner, community or government) is contentious. Many heritage places are privately owned and their cultural benefits are shared by their owners and the community, so it is reasonable that the owners contribute some resources and the government contributes other resources, either directly with funding or indirectly through incentives. However, in reality, public funding for heritage in Australia is very low. Comparison with international data suggests that the low level of funding allocated for Australian heritage may be compounded by the extent of the heritage resource and by the relative ability of owners and governments to provide resources for its conservation (Box 9.25).

Box 9.25 Resources for heritage conservation

An emerging issue for Australia is an apparent disparity between the extent of our rich heritage and the financial resources available for its conservation and management. One way to consider this pressure is by benchmarking against other countries; however, this is challenging because of a lack of readily available and comparable data.

Figures A to D show heritage listing data for several countries. Figure A shows that the number of listed places in Australia is comparable to England and China, but far below the United States. However, when measured relative to country area, the picture is different; Figure B shows that Australia's listed historic sites are highly dispersed. Figure C suggests that Australia lists more sites per person than the other selected nations. This may be a reflection of the underlying resource, or simply a byproduct of multiple jurisdictions and inconsistent approaches to listing. Figure D shows the gross domestic product of each nation per listed site as a measure of ability to pay.

This information is partial and arbitrary, but it does suggest that Australia needs to consider more ways to resource heritage conservation, perhaps by offering incentives for private heritage owners or allowing greater flexibility for change and adaptation.

Heritage is available to all, but funded by some. The Productivity Commission made an important distinction between the respective roles and responsibilities of government and private sector owners of heritage places:

Governments are the custodians of the vast majority of the most significant or 'iconic' heritage places. They also own a very large number of less significant places.

There is significant scope for governments to improve how they identify and fund the conservation of government-owned places.


For many private owners, the current use and enjoyment of their property are consistent with, indeed require, maintaining its heritage attributes.

…the wider cultural benefits of the place are provided to their community with little added costs, apart from the extra administrative cost involved with government identification, assessment and listing. Productivity Commission,90 p. xxviii

Although many of the Productivity Commission's findings and recommendations have been disputed, the above citations highlight the important role of government in providing the resource capacity for heritage conservation and the major contribution already made by private owners—a contribution that deserves greater support and improved incentives (Boxes 9.26 and 9.27).

Box 9.26 Braidwood—economic impact of heritage listing

Braidwood in New South Wales is an excellent example of a surviving planned town from the Georgian period. The layout of Braidwood dates to the 1830s and reflects Governor Darling's desire for planned towns and the imposition of the English county system in the colony of New South Wales. The town of Braidwood and its immediate surrounds were listed on the New South Wales Heritage Register in April 2006 to preserve its character and setting and to boost tourism and jobs in the area. The listing of a town as a whole was unprecedented on the east coast of Australia. Of the town residents, 50% believed that the listing had a positive influence on the town, and 31% believed that the listing was detrimental to the future of Braidwood. Despite these perceptions, the overall economic impact of the heritage listing on Braidwood was neutral.


Braidwood Museum, New South Wales (photo by Claire Baker and the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)

In 2011, federal funding for heritage at the national level was dramatically cut from $34 242 000 in 2010–11 to $26 675 000 in 2011–12: a reduction of more than 22%. The heritage budget for DSEWPaC will be reduced by more than 31%, limiting the extent and effectiveness of current programs and leading inevitably to lack of federal leadership in managing Australian heritage. These cuts require downscaling of fundamental elements of the EPBC Act model for heritage management, such as National Heritage List assessments, and leave little or no ability to instigate effective monitoring or evaluation. The resulting reduction in staff support and other resources will also reduce the effectiveness of groups that rely on federal support, such as the Australian Heritage Council, the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee.

Australian and state budget allocations and project grants for natural heritage are modest and not proportional to the scale of the resources and their natural and ecosystem service value. Cultural heritage is even more poorly funded:

There is a stark contrast between the funding provided by governments in Australia for the conservation of natural and historic heritage. For example, the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) represents the biggest financial commitment to environmental action by any Australian government. Yet the Act which established the Trust in 1997 specifically excluded historic heritage from being considered … Lennon,53 p. 25

In 2007, Heritage Victoria commissioned a useful review of the Victorian heritage grants scheme.92 The review report notes that the grant allocation criteria accept that appropriately recognised heritage places are equally valuable and deserve to be protected, so there is no prioritisation of grant applications based on subjective assessment of comparative heritage value. As a result, the growing demand and reducing pool of funding has tended to reduce the amount provided by individual grants. While understandable, this has arguably resulted in larger and more iconic places not receiving funding, or not having optimal works programs.

There is a strong case for establishing a national cultural heritage funding program, equivalent to the Natural Heritage Trust or Caring for our Country initiatives.53

Box 9.27 New South Wales National Trust Heritage Awards

The New South Wales National Trust Heritage Awards illustrate the benefits of incentive programs and recognition for the owners and managers of heritage places. The awards have been running for around 20 years. In 2011, 49 entries were received, representing a total project value of more than $70 million; the majority of entries were building works. Approximately 50% of the entries were from regional New South Wales, and many had a strong educational component, including supporting heritage trades training and educating heritage property owners. Community development and tourism benefits were also demonstrated in the award-winning projects.

The award entries came from projects supported by government, business and the community and demonstrate that heritage is a significant industry that affects all levels of the community.

The National Trust is planning to extend this award program across Australia, giving the whole country the opportunity to celebrate the value and benefits of heritage.

Protecting Australia's heritage is part of the character and identity of this country, and it's outstanding to see the level of commitment to protecting and conserving heritage in this state by large corporations, small companies, government bodies and individuals. William Holmes á Court, CEO of the National Trust of Australia (NSW)93


Exeter Farm comprises a pair of rare, substantially intact mid-19th century vernacular timber-slab cottage buildings set within the remains of their original rural context. The structures were conserved and repaired as part of the NSW Historic Houses Trust Endangered Houses scheme. The project demonstrates how good conservation outcomes can be achieved through public open days and trades training workshops for heritage and trade professionals (photo by Alan Croker, Design 5 Architects).


A group of winners from the New South Wales National Trust Heritage Awards (photo courtesy of Daniel Griffiths Photography)

The natural and cultural heritage indicators used in the 2001 and 2006 SoE reports included a series of financial and human input measures. Unfortunately, comparable trend data for financial and human inputs are not easily gathered because the relevant information is often amalgamated within larger agency figures or affected by administrative changes. For some jurisdictions, only partial information is available.

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 9 considers funding provided to heritage and other agencies for natural heritage places

Funding for survey and assessment of natural values appears to be declining. Reservation of lands with conservation value continues to depend on public sector budget allocations and opportunistic acquisition. However, additional land continues to be reserved without proportional increases in public sector resourcing. The sparse, partial figures available indicate that operational funding for Australian reserved land management may have increased in amount between 2006 and 2011 but may have declined relative to the dollar value and extent of managed lands.q The majority of Australian parks appear to lack adequate resources to address major emerging pressures, and conservation programs are constrained by available resources. These limitations affect the values of cultural places within reserved lands, as well as natural values.

Nevertheless, some specific public sector funding programs such as National Heritage Trust 2, Caring for our Country and the Jobs Fund initiative have made major positive contributions to particular natural heritage programs (see Table 9.2). However, there are currently no similar forward commitments for ongoing public sector funding of heritage conservation at this scale.

Table 9.2 World Heritage area funding ($) from the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and Caring for our Country, 2006–07 to 2010–11
Figures are based on approvals per financial year and include funding delivered through regional natural resource management bodies and, in some cases, funding for cultural heritage. No funding to Australian Government–managed World Heritage areas is included (i.e. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park).
Funding source NHT2 Caring for our Country  
State 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 Total
Queensland 3 663 139 3 350 232 2 924 000 5 496 810 2 458 600 17 892 781
New South Wales 709 168 796 875 1 153 397 2 055 451 2 182 200 6 897 091
Tasmania 3 469 500 5 015 500 5 170 000 8 329 855 4 003 982 25 988 837
South Australia 110 000 74 250 135 000 319 250
Western Australia 283 503 465 230 425 346 299 700 822 530 2 296 309
Commonwealth 1 200 000 500 000 1 700 000
Total 9 435 310 10 202 087 9 672 743 16 181 816 9 602 312 55 094 268

– = no data available

Source: Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 10 considers funding provided to heritage and other agencies for historic heritage places

Funding for surveying and assessing historic values is difficult to measure on a national basis, but is declining for the National Heritage List. Although the dollar amount has increased, when adjusted for inflation and the number of listed places, the available funding for historic heritage decreased between 2006 and 2011.

Many Australian historic sites in public ownership lack adequate resources to address major conservation priorities. Private owners of historic sites do not receive incentives that are proportional to the public value of the places they own and manage. Grant funding, though substantial during the Jobs Fund initiative, is now in decline.

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 11 considers funding provided to heritage and other agencies for Indigenous heritage places

Resources for listing and protecting Indigenous heritage places are inadequate, and their allocation is often a post-event reaction to adverse impacts. Insufficient attention is paid to intangible values and effective means of protection other than listing or reservation.

Australia's listed Indigenous sites do not allocate adequate resources to address major conservation priorities, nor do land-management programs such as Caring for our Country. Conservation programs for intangible heritage are severely constrained by limits on available resources.

Funding for heritage: Jobs Fund (heritage projects)

In April 2009, the Prime Minister announced a $650-million economic stimulus package (the Jobs Fund), to support local jobs, build skills and improve facilities in local communities. This included $60 million for heritage projects.94 The Jobs Fund program is by far the largest public sector funding initiative for heritage during the SoE 2011 reporting period. Funding of $58.2 million across 2008–09 and 2009–10 was approved for 191 projects (Figures 9.16 and 9.17).95

An assessment process identified which projects met Jobs Fund 'gateway' and heritage criteria, and independent expert assessment review was provided by the Australian Heritage Council and the minister's Heritage Working Group. Approximately 180 further projects (with a value of $173 million) were assessed as suitable, but were not funded.

In addition to achieving some outstanding heritage outcomes (Box 9.28), the heritage component of the Jobs Fund created 2423 jobs, 231 work experience positions and 116 traineeships. Thirteen projects were located in Indigenous communities or had particular focus on Indigenous employment, contributing to Closing the Gap targets through economic stimulus.

Like previous major funding programs (such as the Bicentennial and Centenary of Federation funding programs leading up to 1988 and 2001), the Jobs Fund represents a 'spike' in funding levels for heritage conservation. Such spikes are typically interspaced with lean periods. This funding pattern may contribute to cyclical patterns observed in the condition and integrity of our heritage (see Section 2.2.7).

Box 9.28 Conservation of Brennan and Geraghty's Store and residences

Brennan and Geraghty's Store in Maryborough, Queensland, is a rare and extremely significant example of a late-19th century store, which still contains an in situ collection of merchandise and records dating from the early 1900s.

The store was constructed in 1871 by Irish immigrants and brothers-in-law Patrick Brennan and Martin Geraghty, adapting a cottage they had built in 1861. The 1880s saw the peak of Brennan and Geraghty's business empire in a boom period for Maryborough and Queensland. The store was operated for 100 years by descendants of the Geraghty family, closing in 1971. It was purchased by the National Trust of Queensland in 1975 and opened to the public in 1990.

Funding of $250 000 was made available to the National Trust to replace guttering; investigate the downpipe and stormwater system for blockages; replace the rear stairs, three panels of pine awning and rotted cladding on the outhouse, front fences and gates; repair loose mouldings; and repaint the awning, main building, outhouse and stables.

The project employed local consultants, builders and tradespeople because heritage skills and materials were readily available locally. The project made a valuable contribution to sustaining heritage skills in a regional centre that prides itself on being a heritage tourism destination.

Upgrading the two cottages on either side of the store will help diversify and increase the income of the complex in the future, and will improve the protection and care of the store's valuable collection of artefacts and documents.


Photo by Mark Mohell and the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Human resources

Human resource inputs for heritage include the knowledge and skills of staff employed in reserves and cultural sites; heritage advisers and regulators; and private sector owners, managers and volunteers.

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 17 considers the number and distribution of professional heritage-related courses, enrolments and graduates

Conservation of the vast array of culturally significant buildings and places in Australia and New Zealand relies on a body of heritage professionals and tradespeople with relevant specialist skills. These skills are acquired through both formal and 'on the job' training. The number of practitioners with these skills has declined in recent years and the population of appropriately skilled practitioners is ageing–leading to a looming crisis in cultural heritage conservation. Godden Mackay Logan,21p. 131

There was a net increase in the number of professional heritage-related courses between 2006 and 2011. However, available courses are concentrated in eastern Australia and major cities. The focus for courses is on general professional heritage management, whereas opportunities for more specific training in heritage trades have declined (Table 9.3).21

Table 9.3 Professional historic heritage training courses offered in Australia (degree, diploma, certificate and short courses), 2010
State Physical conservation Recording Management Consultation Interpretation Archaeology Historic landscape management Legislation and policy Total
ACT 4 6 11 1 6 8 7 8 51
NSW 3 9 4   1 2   5 24
NT         1       1
Qld     3     4   2 9
SA   10 12   8 15   12 57
Tas         1       1
Vic 10 8 10 4 5 1 2 8 48
WA     4   5 3   4 16
  17 33 44 5 27 33 9 39 207

ACT = Australian Capital Territory; NSW = New South Wales; NT = Northern Territory; Qld = Queensland; SA = South Australia; Tas = Tasmania; Vic = Victoria; WA = Western Australia

Source: Godden Mackay Logan21

Practice standards in heritage professional practice and trades practice rely on skilled practitioners. A particularly challenging problem for practice standards in historic heritage is an apparent skills erosion (Box 9.29).

Box 9.29 Loss of traditional heritage trade skills

During 2009 and 2010, the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand commissioned a study of heritage trades and professional training in Australia and New Zealand.21 The project report assessed demand for a variety of heritage professional and trade skills and considered this need in relation to available training and expertise.

The study highlighted the ageing population of specialist tradespeople, a declining skills and knowledge base and, particularly, an emerging generation of practitioners who had completed general rather than specialist training but still considered that they could undertake specialist trades work—they 'did not know what they did not know'. The report identifies that the amount of specialist heritage trade work available in Australia and New Zealand is barely adequate for existing (generally older) specialist practitioners, which means that there are limited opportunities for new apprentices as funding levels confine the available specialist work to the small number of longstanding, well-established practitioners. However, the situation is fast approaching a precipice, beyond which current experts will have retired without a new generation to take their place. This emerging skills shortage poses a potentially major risk for historic heritage conservation.

her-box-9-29-traditionalheritageskills.jpg her-box-9-29-b-traditionalheritageskills.jpg her-box-9-29-c-traditionalheritageskills.jpg her-box9-29-d-traditionalheritageskills.jpg her-box-9-29-e-traditionalheritageskills.jpg her-box-9-29-f-traditionalheritageskills.jpg

Photos by Godden Mackay Logan

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 18 considers membership of selected peak professional heritage associations

Comprehensive, reliable longitudinal data are not available for peak professional associations across the heritage sector. Surrogate data (such as membership of Australia ICOMOS) suggest a substantial increase in membership of professional heritage associations of around 20% between 2006 and 2011 (Figure 9.18).

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 19 considers the number of volunteers trained by heritage organisations and institutions

Comprehensive, reliable longitudinal data are not available for the heritage volunteer sector. Surrogate data indicate that volunteer participation has declined. For example, information provided by the Australian Council of National Trusts shows some variation from state to state, but overall a general decrease of 2.7% over 2006-2011 and a decrease of 14.1% since 1998. Actual membership numbers and participation in heritage training or conservation activities may vary depending on state-specific processes for managing membership records, particular advocacy campaigns or membership drives. While National Trust membership can be regarded as indicative only, the figures suggest that, despite some growth in numbers between 2006 and 2008, volunteerism in the heritage sector may generally be declining (Figure 9.19).

However, there are many positive stories about contributions made to heritage conservation by volunteers (Box 9.30).

Box 9.30 Heritagecare

Heritage Victoria supported the 'Heritagecare' program between 2006 and 2010. The program was delivered by a nongovernment organisation through an annual grant of $385 000. The grant provided funding for:

  • Hands on Heritage, which facilitated short-term volunteering. This program was required to deliver a minimum of twenty 5-day projects (i.e. a total of 100 project-days) per year, with five volunteers per project
  • Community Stewardship, which comprised six-month projects that were required to deliver a minimum of fifteen 26-week projects per year (i.e. 390 volunteer-days per year).

Over the four years, 167 Community Stewardship projects were undertaken, with a total of 17 329 volunteer-days; and 62 Hands on Heritage project sites (including multiple projects at the same site) were delivered, with a total of 2934 volunteer-days.96


As part of Heritage Victoria's Heritagecare program, volunteers at the Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum, Hamilton, sorted material to enable archival storage and cataloguing of the collection (photo by Julie Millowik, courtesy of Heritage Victoria, Department of Planning and Community Development, Victoria)

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 20 considers the number of people working in Indigenous organisations, number of Indigenous enrolments in university heritage courses, number of Indigenous people employed by agencies involved in Indigenous programs and management of Indigenous heritage

Insufficient data are available to provide an accurate assessment of this indicator.

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 21 considers the number of local government heritage advisers

Insufficient data are available to provide an accurate assessment of this indicator.

Natural and cultural heritage indicator 22 considers the number of professional heritage employees in government agencies

Anecdotal evidence suggests that national parks in Australia suffer from a systemic lack of direct resourcing. Budgets and grant programs are never regarded as sufficient to achieve basic values management and respond to emerging issues. The implications include loss of skilled staff, and management having to omit some activities and programs, leading to further pressures and impacts.

At the national level, Australian Government departmental funding was reduced from $15 million to $13 million between 2006-07 and 2011-12.97This reduction is even greater when adjusted to reflect actual employment costs, and has resulted in a drop in heritage staffing levels. The reduction adversely affects listing programs, and reduces capacity for delivery of advice, proactive planning and reactive monitoring of heritage places.68

At the state level, comparable trend data for staffing levels within heritage agencies are not available: the relevant information is subsumed within summary figures for larger agencies, or compromised by changes to government structures or differences between jurisdictions. However, a snapshot view as at June 2011 (Table 9.4) shows significant variation in staffing levels between jurisdictions, even taking anomalies into account and adjusting for population or numbers of places listed on state heritage registers. There is an obvious correlation between higher staffing levels and a greater number of listed places; it is not clear whether this correlation occurs because greater staff resourcing enables more places to be assessed, or because greater numbers of listed places require more regulators, or both.

Table 9.4 State and territory heritage office full-time equivalent (FTE) staff numbers, June 2011
Jurisdiction FTEs internal FTEs external FTEs total Population (million) FTE/million people Number of places on state register Number of places on state register/FTE Notes
ACT 12.0 0.0 12.0 0.36 33.3 470 39.2 Includes Indigenous heritage
NSW 35.0 2.0 37.0 7.24 5.1 1 570 42.4  
NT 7.0 0.0 7.0 0.23 30.4 250 35.7 Includes Indigenous heritage
Qld 25.0 11.6 36.6 4.52 8.1 1 670 45.6  
SA 16.9 0.0 16.9 1.64 10.3 2 210 130.8  
Tas 16.5 0.0 16.5 0.51 32.4 5 520 334.6  
Vic 42.2 0.0 42.2 5.55 7.6 2 240 53.1  
WA 28.3 0.0 28.3 2.30 12.3 1 300 45.9  
Total 182.9 13.6 196.5 22.35   21 160   Excludes Australian Government
Mean 22.9 1.7 24.6 - 17.4 - 107.7  

ACT = Australian Capital Territory; NSW = New South Wales; NT = Northern Territory; Qld = Queensland; SA = South Australia; Tas = Tasmania; Vic = Victoria; WA = Western Australia

Source: Heritage Victoria, gathered on behalf of Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand, unpublished

Along with national and state heritage staff, local heritage advisers are highly valued (Box 9.31).

Box 9.31 Local heritage—the difference made by local heritage advisers

Local heritage advisers are invaluable in providing targeted and specialist advice to home and business owners to help them manage their heritage properties. Through local councils, heritage advisers provide advice to residents and property owners who want to alter, extend or demolish privately owned buildings.

For example, positive and proactive heritage management improved the facade of a commercial building in Geelong, Victoria. The local heritage adviser assisted the owner in reaching a cost-effective solution that improved the appearance and amenity of the building. The heritage adviser used the Geelong Verandah study to suggest a design that would have a positive effect on the heritage values of the building.98

her-box-9-31-bef.jpg her-box-9-31-after.jpg

231 Moorabool St, Geelong, before verandah reconstruction (photo by Michael Bell, Manifest Architects, Geelong)

q DSEWPaC summary analysis of natural and cultural heritage indicator data, July 2011

Mackay R (2011). Heritage: Inputs. In: Australia state of the environment 2011, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra,, DOI 10.4226/94/58b658bbe13a0