Heritage Bodies

06 December 2013 .





The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.




The Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee (AWHAC)


The AWHAC was established in November 2008 by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in order to provide Ministers with advice on strategic and cross-cutting issues affecting Australia’s World Heritage properties.


Australian Heritage Council


The Australian Heritage Council is the principal adviser to the Australian Government on heritage matters. The Council assesses nominations for the National Heritage List, and the Commonwealth Heritage List. The Minister may ask the Council for advice on action that he may take in relation to the List of Overseas Places of Historic Significance to Australia.




NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Heritage Division


The Heritage Division:


  • provides specialist advice to the Minister, the Heritage Council and the wider community about the management of heritage across New South Wales
  • maintains the NSW heritage database, an online list of all statutory-listed heritage items in NSW
  • administers the State Heritage Register, which lists items of particular importance to the people of New South Wales
  • develops best practice management of items of heritage significance to the State, including the approval of changes to items on the State Heritage Register
  • produces information and publications on heritage policy and heritage guidelines
  • implements the State’s archaeology and maritime archaeology programs
  • supports community heritage conservation projects around NSW through the NSW Heritage Grants Program and liaison with community groups
  • administers, under delegation to the Director of the Heritage Division, the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in relation to historic shipwrecks adjacent to the NSW coast.


Historic Houses Trust of NSW


Historic Houses Trust of NSW, incorporating Sydney Living Museums, cares for significant historic places, buildings, landscapes and collections. It is a statutory authority of, and principally funded by, the New South Wales State Government.




Unlike the Commonwealth government and state government and territory governments, there is no requirement for local governments to identify their own historic heritage.  In most cases, however they do compile and keep lists of locally significant historic places. The criterion governing this identification varies across jurisdictions. Protection of these places is normally implemented through local planning schemes – Local Environmental Plan (LEP)s – prepared by local governments to guide planning  decisions and establish the requirements for the use and development of land. LEPs usually list our specific local heritage properties to which development controls apply, and/or designate areas for heritage protection with the application of development controls to all relevant properties in the areas.


Refer to individual local council websites for further information






National Trust of Australia


The National Trusts of Australia are community-based, non-government organisations, committed to promoting and conserving Australia’s indigenous, natural and historic heritage through its advocacy work and its custodianship of heritage places and objects.


DOCOMOMO Australia


DOCOMOMO Australia is a national organisation run by volunteers involved in architecture, academia and conservation. It was established in 1999 following a public meeting held in Sydney in conjunction with a landmark conference organised by the Historic Houses Trust called Opera House: Fibro House. The conference raised some of the issues facing the buildings of the early modern era and DOCOMOMO Australia continues to pursue these issues raised, as well as the aims and objectives of DOCOMOMO International, as set out in the Eindhoven Statement.


Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS)


RAHS, Australia’s oldest historical organisation founded in Sydney in 1901, exists to encourage the study of and interest in Australian history.  Based at History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney, the Society boasts a membership network of individuals and local historical societies, libraries and corporate partners.  As a not-for-profit organisation, its activities and facilities are largely funded by contributions from its members and benefactors.




Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter


The Australian Institute of Architects is the peak body for the architectural profession in Australia, representing 12,000 members. The Institute works to improve our built environment by promoting quality, responsible, sustainable design.


The Twentieth Century Heritage Society of NSW Inc


This society was founded in 1995, with the aim of protecting and promoting 20th Century architectural and design heritage in the state




Many of the local city and urban areas have their own Historical Societies.


These organisations are generally conducted entirely by volunteers with a strong sense of commitment to the heritage and the future of their communities.


Contact your local Council to find out more about the organisations in your area.