Protecting Victoria's cultural heritage

Victoria’s cultural heritage is a rich and diverse resource.

The Victorian Heritage Act 2017 (the Heritage Act) provides for the identification, protection, conservation and management of heritage places and objects that contribute to an understanding of Victoria’ s history and development.

Heritage Victoria is responsible for administering the compliance and enforcement provisions of the Heritage Act, the Heritage Regulations 2017 (Vic), the Heritage (Underwater Cultural Heritage) Regulations 2017 (Vic) and the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 (Cth) as they relate to Victoria.

The Heritage Act provides a framework to manage Victoria’s cultural heritage, which includes the ability to appoint inspectors to ensure compliance.  Inspectors powers include those to enter, search and seize material in relation to investigating the significance of a building. land or object and determining whether the Heritage Act has been complied with.

Common breaches of heritage legislation

Any registered place, object, historic shipwreck or historic archaeological site is of special cultural heritage significance to the State of Victoria and legally protected to help ensure it survives for future generations to appreciate. Some common breaches of heritage legislation include:

  • Unauthorised buildings and works
  • Non-compliance with permits
  • Allowing a place or object to fall into disrepair or failing to maintain that place or object to the extent that its conservation is threatened
  • damage to, removal, possession or sale of archaeological or shipwreck artefacts
  • carrying out of prohibited activities with shipwreck protected zones e.g entry, mooring, trawling, fishing, diving, cultivating, mining, quarrying, dredging or excavating

More information about places and objects protected under the Heritage Act can be found in the Victorian Heritage Database. The Victorian Heritage Database is home to the Victorian Heritage Register; which lists the State’s most significant heritage places, objects and historic shipwrecks; and to the Victorian Heritage Inventory which lists all known historical archaeological sites in Victoria.

Compliance and Enforcement Strategy

Heritage Victoria has recently adopted a Compliance and Enforcement Strategy (PDF, 1.4 MB) to outline its approach to managing its compliance responsibilities under heritage legislation.

The objective of the Strategy is to reduce harm to Victoria’s significant heritage places and objects.

The Strategy identifies many of Heritage Victoria’s enforcement powers, how they differ depending on the level and nature of non-compliance and an explanation of how and when they will be used.

Heritage Victoria will encourage voluntary compliance with heritage legislation through the provision of information and education, setting standards and supporting compliance obligations.  Heritage Victoria will take enforcement action when legal requirements are contravened or not complied with.

Heritage Victoria will be proactive and will use enforcement to try to prevent problems occurring, address non-compliance, aim to fix the problem and restore and ‘make good’ the harm caused to cultural heritage values of places or objects.

Owners responsibilities

Heritage Victoria has published a new brochure for owners (PDF, 1.0 MB) of Victorian Heritage Register listed places and objects. It provides important information relevant to owners or custodians of a heritage asset, including information about:

  • seeking consent before making changes to the place
  • legal obligations to maintain the place to the extent that its conservation is not threatened and to ensure that it does not fall into a state of disrepair

It also includes useful information such as maintenance and repair tips and information about the Living Heritage Grants Program which provides conservation funding for Victorian Heritage Register listed places and objects.

Community responsibilities

Everyone can help protect Victoria’s heritage by reporting any unauthorised works or suspicious activity to Heritage Victoria.  For safety reasons it is important that you do not directly intervene.

Heritage Victoria also has a number of partner agencies such as other parts of Department of Environment Land Water and Planning and Parks Victoria, with officers authorised to carry out compliance and enforcement responsibilities of heritage legislation.

Enforcement actions

The following enforcement actions are published in accordance with the Heritage Victoria Compliance and Enforcement Strategy.

Place/object

Victorian Heritage Register Number

Action

Date of action

Spurling House, 38 Black Street, Brighton

H0126

Show Cause Notice in accordance with section 154 of the Heritage Act 2017

27 June 2019

Spurling House, 38 Black Street, Brighton

H0126

Repair Order in accordance with section 155 of the Heritage Act 2017

20 June 2019

More information

Heritage Victoria’s Compliance & Enforcement team can be contacted at heritage.victoria@delwp.vic.gov.au or 03 9938 6861.

Page last updated: 11/07/19