The Australian Heritage Council's main responsibilities are to:
- assess nominations in relation to the listing of places on the National Heritage List and the Commonwealth Heritage List
- advise on the inclusion of places in, and the removal of places from, the List of Overseas Places of Historic Significance to Australia
- promote the identification, assessment, conservation and monitoring of heritage
- maintain the Register of the National Estate.
The Australian Heritage Council is an independent body of heritage experts established through the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003. It replaces the Australian Heritage Commission as the Australian Government's independent expert advisory body on heritage matters.
The Council's role is to assess the values of places nominated for the National Heritage List and the Commonwealth Heritage List, and to advise the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts on conserving and protecting places included, or being considered for inclusion, in the National Heritage List and Commonwealth Heritage List. The Council may also nominate places with heritage values to these lists.
It is the Council's duty to promote the identification, assessment and conservation of heritage and to advise the Minister on a range of matters relating to heritage. It also engages in research and promotional activities. The Council maintains the Register of the National Estate - a list of 13 000 natural and cultural heritage places throughout Australia. The Register is a reference database and is used for public education and the promotion of heritage conservation generally.