Overview of effectiveness of management of heritage


The most significant national heritage management initiative since 2011 has been the preparation and launch of the Australian Heritage Strategy (DoE 2015a), which, for the first time, provides a nationally driven strategic direction for heritage management across all levels of government and the community for the next 10 years.

However, despite excellent heritage management processes and programs at both the national, and state and territory level, the resources allocated to heritage identification and protection have, overall, remained steady or declined. Australian Government funding for heritage projects has diminished significantly (Figure OVW7), although there appears to have been growth in contributions to heritage conservation from the private sector and community groups.

Nationally funded projects within the National Environmental Research Program and its successor, the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP), have contributed towards the conservation and management of a number of heritage places and reserved lands. These projects, and the Indigenous Rangers – Working on Country program, in conjunction with expanded traditional land and sea management in Indigenous Protected Areas, have fostered the integrated use of traditional and scientific knowledge for conservation management purposes, and involved Indigenous people in active management of their heritage. Ongoing support for such programs and related training programs will be important.

Along with the expansion of the role of Indigenous people in managing Indigenous heritage, recognition of the importance of intangible Indigenous heritage has also increased. The heritage values of Indigenous places in reserved lands or under Indigenous management are being maintained. However, incomplete understanding of the resource and the current processes used to respond to development pressures mean that other Indigenous heritage sites continue to be at risk.

Progress with the National Heritage List is constrained by both resourcing and statutory processes, but the Australian Heritage Council and the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy are seeking to put a policy framework in place that will guide the future direction of the National Heritage List. Australia is also in the process of reviewing and updating the ‘tentative list’ of properties that may be nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List in the future.

Currently, with some exceptions, Australia’s historic sites are listed and protected in an inconsistent manner. The limited available data suggest that most historic heritage values are being retained, but there is a trend to lessen the effectiveness of heritage legislation and to manage historic heritage through other statutory means, including through legislation whose primary purpose is to facilitate development. Where management arrangements are in place for reserves with natural heritage values, the arrangements appear to be generally effective in retaining the values within these reserves

Jackson WJ, Argent RM, Bax NJ, Bui E, Clark GF, Coleman S, Cresswell ID, Emmerson KM, Evans K, Hibberd MF, Johnston EL, Keywood MD, Klekociuk A, Mackay R, Metcalfe D, Murphy H, Rankin A, Smith DC, Wienecke B (2016). Overview: Overview of effectiveness of management of heritage. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview/heritage/topic/overview-effectiveness-management-heritage, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65510c633b