Heritage Advisory Services: Towards best practice - Current status of Government Heritage Advisory Services throughout Australia, evaluation & recommendations

Elizabeth Vines and Katrina McDougall, Conservation and Heritage Consultants

Towards Best Practice

3. Current status of Government Heritage Advisory Services throughout Australia, evaluation & recommendations

3.1 Framework of Heritage Advisory Services

Heritage Advisory Services assist local and State Governments and the community to best conserve the heritage assets of an area. Consultation and evaluation with each State and Territory of Australia of current services has confirmed the effectiveness of these services across Australia.

The current role and functions of Heritage Advisory Services at the following levels are summarised below.

Community

Advisers assist the general community by providing:

  • the first point of contact for owners and residents (available for consultation)
  • education of the community in heritage issues
  • liaison with community groups
  • raised awareness of the breadth and value of heritage places
  • assistance in interpreting community wishes regarding heritage
  • explanation of legislation and regulations
  • more readily available contact between individuals and council or State Government
  • advice on relevant sources of funding and non-financial contributions.

Local Government

Advisers assist local government by providing:

  • architectural and conservation advice for owners
  • planning process input/development application approvals
  • interpretation of legislation at the local level
  • development of policy initiatives in associated areas
  • delegated authority for places listed in the State Register (in certain States only)
  • provision of cost-efficient heritage services
  • liaison with other community heritage bodies
  • conservation of council-owned assets.

State and Territory Government

Advisers assist State and Territory Governments by providing:

  • assistance with State funding programs
  • preparation of heritage inventories
  • interpretation of State legislation at the local level
  • assistance with management of State heritage-listed properties
  • ensuring consistent conservation standards at the local level
  • assistance with State Government in achieving statutory responsibilities.

Commonwealth Government

Advisers assist the Commonwealth Government by providing:

  • assistance to implement the stated objective of the Australian Heritage Commission to make heritage management a community concern and responsibility
  • general monitoring of the condition of National Estate places
  • assistance to National Estate Register listed property owners and encouragement to apply for grants
  • assistance with the Federal Government Tax Incentive Scheme and other Commonwealth funding initiatives.

Heritage Advisory Services operate in five States and one Territory in Australia. The first service was introduced in 1977 (Victoria); the most recent service in 1994 (Northern Territory). The accompanying table summarises the extent and coverage of these services and the differences in funding allocation. It shows council areas served by Advisers, and whether heritage restoration funds are associated with these services. In general, higher levels of Government funding have been required at the initial establishment of these services, but the two States (New South Wales and Victoria) where services have been in operation for the longest period have been able to provide more financially efficient services over time by devolving financial responsibility to local councils. As late as 1993 the Victorian Government fully funded Heritage Advisory Services, but the service has expanded greatly in the past four years due to the decision to establish joint funding arrangements.

State/Territory Heritage Advisory Services summary information
State Heritage Advisory Services Date started Location of first service Funding allocation 1996 Total govt funding to date since establishment Number of council areas served by advisers Delegated Authority to Heritage Advisers Associated Heritage Restoration Funds Funding Allocation for Restoration Funds 96/97
ACT Nil  

NSW Yes 1983 Windsor,
Richmond
NEG 241,000   438,000 82 No Yes
(additional to SHF)
 
        SHF     641,000       137,000
- (SHF)
        LG 241,000   1,079,000       137,000
- (LG)
        Total $482,000   $2,158,000       $274,000
NT Yes 1994 Alice Springs NEG 10,000   120,000 2 *
Top End Region
Alice Springs Region
No No Nil
        SHF 70,000            
        Total $80,000            
Qld Yes 1992 Maryborough,
Charters Towers
NEG 104,000   146,000 6 No No
(SHF only)
 
        SHF     108,160        
        LG 80,000   254,160        
        Total $184,000   $508,320        
SA Yes 1987 Burra Burra NEG 70,000   354,100 19 Yes Yes
(Gawler only)
Nil
        SHF 108,000   612,807        
        LG 94,600   252,718        
        Total $272,600   $1,219,625        
Tas Nil Local government funded   3
(Heritage Officers)
Limited
delegation to
Heritage Officers
                     
Vic Yes 1977 Maldon SHF 150,000   approx
$2,000,000
total
36
(30 part-funded
by State Govt)
  Yes
(additional to SHF)
 
        LG 150,000       Delegation to
Local Govt Area
  $150,000
        Total $300,000            
WA Yes 1992 Mid West
Region – Geraldton
NEG 10,000 94-95 $34,000 6 Regions      
      South West
Region – Bunbury
SHF 20,000 95-96 $23,265   No No
(SHF only)
$27,000
(State fund only)
      Great Southern
Region – Albany
LG 10,000 96-97 $40,000        
        Total $40,000 Total $97,265        
Total     $1,358,600   $6,103,210 154     $301,000

KEY: NEG – National Estates Funding, SHF – State Government Heritage Fund, LG – Local Government contribution

* Northern Territory Advisers service large areas going well beyond single council boundaries.

3.2 Summary of evaluation and benefits of Heritage Advisory Services Across Australia

3.2.1 Evaluation of services currently in operation in States & Territories

Generally across Australia, consultation with local councils, the National Trust, and the community has overwhelmingly endorsed the essential value and usefulness of Heritage Advisory Services. Services in operation were described as either excellent or good and there was unanimous support for the services, described as positively assisting councils and communities in the effective management of heritage assets. Guidelines prepared by the various State/Territory heritage authorities vary across Australia.

3.2.2 Comparative analysis of current guidelines in operation in States and Territories

Sections 3.3 – 3.10 describe the current operations of Heritage Advisory Services throughout Australia and provide specific recommendations for the future of the services in these locations. The table above provides a summary analysis of the current guidelines prepared by the relevant State/Territory Heritage Agency for services in operation.

Section 4 outlines a set of guidelines recommended for adoption by all States and Territories as a minimum standard of service.

3.2.3 Funding

Most Heritage Advisory Services have been affected by cuts to National Estate grants. It is important that, in future Federal Government budgets, continued contributions be made at a national level to support State-run Heritage Advisory Services in States where the State Heritage Fund allocation is insufficient to continue the necessary level of service. Federal Government financial support is particularly required for the development of Heritage Advisory Services in States and Territories which have only recently commenced services. This is particularly the case for Tasmania which has received no previous funding and as yet has no State Government coordinated services.

3.2.4 Delegation to Advisers

It is recommended that delegation be provided to Advisers or to local councils with recognised heritage expertise to make approvals processes more efficient. This may require revision of contractual arrangements and current heritage legislation. Currently, South Australia allows for Heritage Advisers to have full delegation on behalf of the Minister to expedite the development applications process associated with State heritage places.

3.2.5 Training and education

The New South Wales Government through the New South Wales Heritage Office currently provides the most effective heritage education programs for Heritage Advisers and council staff. Other States and Territories indicated a need for them and this report recommends that they be established, with the Federal Government facilitating and funding such training programs, and that they be implemented by State Governments at State level. (Refer Section 3.11 for a detailed discussion)

3.2.6 Reporting by Advisers

Standards of reporting required by each State and Territory Government differ. New South Wales and Queensland are the only State heritage authorities currently requiring the preparation of annual reports. This report finds that diary reports and annual reports should be required as part of these services, as these assist with the effective evaluation of the programs and allow for effective networking and cross-flow of ideas among Advisers when annual reports are shared at State or national meetings.

3.2.7 Promotion of effectiveness of services

Considerable lobbying needs to be undertaken to elevate the profile of local Heritage Advisory Services at a national level. This document should form the basis of a policy which outlines the benefits of these services. It is recommended that the value of Heritage Advisory Services be advocated and promoted to the following forums:

  • Planning and Local Government Ministers’ meetings
  • Council of Lord Mayors
  • Heritage Ministers’ meetings
  • State and Federal Ministers’ meetings
  • National meetings of Heritage Chairs
  • National meetings of Heritage Officials
  • Australia ICOMOS

Comparative analysis of current State Government coordinated services in Australia

Management
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Decentralised program — Local Councils responsible for day-to-day management
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Centralised program — Government responsible for day-to-day management
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Decentralised program — Local Councils responsible for day-to-day management
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Decentralised program — Local Councils responsible for day-to-day management
Tasmania No Government run Service
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Decentralised program — Local Councils responsible for day-to-day management
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Centralised program — Government responsible for day-to-day management
Employment conditions
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Advisers contracted to Local Councils — standard brief outlines duly statement and reporting requirements, standard letter forms basis of contract
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Advisers contracted to Territory Government (Heritage Conservation Branch) — no typical contract for Advisers, advice provided on request of Government to owners of listed places
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Advisers contracted to Local Councils — brief and conditions determined by Local Councils
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Advisers contracted State Heritage Branch (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)
Tasmania Heritage officers employed directly by Councils (total 3 in State)
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Advisers contracted to Local Councils
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Advisers contracted to WA Heritage Council — duty statement and conditions of appointment outlined in contract with Heritage Council
Government funding available
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Maximum $5,000 per year provided to Councils on $ for $ basis; funding limited to 3 years in greater metropolitan area; rural funding restricted to $1 per $2 after first 4 years
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Service fully funded by Government
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Service reliant on $ for $ Government funding (60% funding provided by Government in some cases)
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Contribution by Local Government varies, State Government responsible for majority of funding
Tasmania Nil — Tasmania has never received any Federal Government funding
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
$ for $ with Local Councils
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Funding varies, all positions fully funded by Government.
Delegation to Advisers
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
New Heritage Policy investigating delegation to Local Councils
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
No delegation to Advisers
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
No delegation to Advisers
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Adviser has Ministerial delegation (reason for employment by Government) to expedite approvals
Tasmania Limited delegation to Heritage Officers at Hobart City Council and Launceston City Council.
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Delegation to Local Councils
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
No delegation
Fee structure
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Government recommended fee maximum $550 per day
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Determined in consultation with Government
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Government recommended fee $60 per hour for 8 hour day; other payment levels negotiated
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Varies according to location; generally $500 per day visit
Tasmania
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Determined between Council and Adviser, no Government guideline set; competitively tendered
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Determined in consultation with Government; no Government guideline set; competitively tendered
Reporting requirements
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Visit reports; annual reports to State Government and Local Council, and attendance at annual meetings required

Annual reports required to State Government, and Local Council Attendance at annual meetings

Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Reporting standard up to individual Adviser
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Reporting standard up to individual Adviser — Guidelines for reporting prepared by Government (in draft form)
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Visit reports required for Council and State Government; specific table format for Government allows for easy auditing
Tasmania
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Annual reports by Council to Department of Planning and visit reports required
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Standard framework of reporting and monthly reports to Government required
Other
New South Wales
(commenced 1983)
Extensive information package available; annual training program for Advisers; establishment of local heritage committee recommended, and associated Local Heritage Funds
Northern Territory
(commenced 1994)
Queensland
(commenced 1992)
Establishment of local Heritage Committee required; information package of service available to Council
South Australia
(commenced 1987)
Information package available
Tasmania Need for guidelines, framework and training programs for new services, and Government coordinated service being proposed
Victoria
(commenced 1977)
Information package available on local Heritage Committees generally; associated local heritage funds; and no Council has ever been refused funding
Western Australia
(commenced 1992)
Commitment by larger local authorities to contribute to funding in next financial year; cross reporting between Advisers occurs; quarterly seminars held by Government, and seminars proposed to be hosted in regions

3.3 Australian Capital Territory

No Heritage Advisory Services are in operation in the Australian Capital Territory and there is no local government structure in operation.

3.4 New South Wales

3.4.1 Current status

New South Wales was the second State in Australia to introduce Heritage Advisory Services. They commenced in 1983 in Windsor and Richmond using National Estate Grants Program funding. As at February 1997, 82 positions exist of which 66 are now jointly funded by State and local government. This service, coordinated by the New South Wales Heritage Office, is a decentralised program with dollar for dollar grant funding provided through the New South Wales Heritage Assistance Program to councils who engage Advisers to visit their area on a regular basis. Councils apply for funding in March and Advisers are contracted directly to the councils. Current maximum grant funding is limited to $5,000 per year to each council on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Councils are encouraged, in the longer term, to develop or engage their own in-house heritage expertise and for this reason heritage funding in the metropolitan area is limited to three years. In rural areas, funding is restricted to one dollar per two-dollar grant after the first four years. At least 12 New South Wales councils have full-time Heritage Officers.

The Heritage Office in New South Wales, through the Heritage Assistance Program coordinator, has developed a comprehensive information package which is available to all councils and includes the following:

  • a summary information brochure on the Heritage Advisory Program which includes:
    • the goal of the advisory program (the main goal of the Heritage Advisory Program is to assist local council and its community to have appropriate measures and management in place so as to best conserve and present the heritage of its area)
    • the benefits of the Advisory Program
    • a summary of Advisory Program to date
    • a list of positions fully funded by council (this outlines that a number of metropolitan councils now appoint full-time Heritage Officers, eg North Sydney, South Sydney, Randwick, Marrickville, Woollahra and Wollongong)
    • how Heritage Advisory Services are run
    • qualities required of the Heritage Adviser
    • how to appoint an Adviser (this explains that expressions of interest in the position should be sought)
    • fees guidelines
    • grant funding outline, and
    • sources of further information
  • a draft model letter of engagement for Advisers
  • a standard letter sent by Heritage Office to councils regarding annual appointment of the Heritage Adviser and outlining conditions of appointment, including:
    • the Adviser’s brief being generally in accordance with the draft model letter of engagement
    • the concurrence of the Heritage Office to the consultant’s appointment and the fee to be paid
    • council taking all practical steps to ensure as wide as possible advertising of the program
    • acceptance of offer and commencement of service within ten weeks
    • annual reporting to the Department on the service, including proper accounting for the grant money
    • revocation and recall of funds where the above conditions are not adhered to, and
    • the response required from council, which is to be completed and forwarded to the Heritage Office
  • a list of Heritage Advisers operating in New South Wales (indicating name and location of Heritage Advisers).

New South Wales has the most extensive and comprehensive Heritage Advisory Service program in Australia. This is supported by three administrative staff (the program coordinator and two full-time assistants), as part of their overall responsibilities for the heritage assistance program. The program coordinator, Mr Dennis McManus, describes the program as 'undoubtedly the most effective program out of the whole 2.4 million dollars annual New South Wales Heritage Fund allocation'. The New South Wales Heritage Office strongly advocates the use of Heritage Advisers at local level as this results in less in-house government staffing and is cost effective in reducing the number of full-time government employees. Local councils are expected to have advisers or officers trained in handling and processing development applications relating to heritage places. Expansion of the program is proposed with an additional 12 new appointments to be made in 1997. This will almost meet the current demand for Advisers across the State.

3.4.2 Funding

One of the reasons for the success of the Advisory Programs in New South Wales has been the secure funding base from the State Government. In the last few years funding for a total heritage program in New South Wales has been of the order of $2.7 million of which some $700,000 has been from the Commonwealth under National Estate Grants Program funding and the balance of some $2 million from the State. State funding has been secure because it is based on interest on funds invested in the New South Wales Heritage Conservation Fund, currently in the order of $16 million. For administrative reasons, in the last two years the funding for Heritage Advisers has come from the National Estate Grants Program. In the event that funding is not provided under future National Estate grants programs it is likely to be met from the New South Wales Fund. Funding for all councils is limited to $5,000 per council on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Three-year sunset provisions apply to the metropolitan councils after which it is considered that councils should either have trained up their own staff, appointed new staff, or retained the services of an adviser – in some cases a mix of options is adopted.

In rural areas it is judged that it is more difficult for councils to obtain additional in-house expertise and funding is continued, although reduced to one dollar for two dollars after the first four years.

3.4.3 Delegation to Advisers

Under the New South Wales Government’s 1996 Heritage Policy a "one stop shop" approach (for approvals for heritage items) is proposed. It is proposed that the Heritage Council, via the Minister, will delegate responsibility for consent for development applications affecting State heritage listed items to local councils, but before this delegation can occur a council must demonstrate that they have adequate skills (for example, an appointed Heritage Adviser). This new approach is still in discussion stages and has not yet been officially introduced. There is no proposal to delegate Heritage Council approvals directly to Advisers.

3.4.4 Information base available to Advisers

Heritage surveys have been undertaken for most New South Wales local government areas with the exception of sections of far-western rural New South Wales, particularly the unincorporated areas. Heritage reviews are currently being undertaken in many local councils and there is an ongoing need for updated evaluation of heritage assets. The State Heritage Inventory Program being undertaken in 1997 will provide a State heritage inventory database providing information on heritage items of State significance. The annual allocation of Heritage Assistance Program (HAP) grants provides for ongoing funding for heritage studies where these are considered lacking and requiring updating.

3.4.5 Training and education

The New South Wales Heritage Council and the Heritage Office are required to effectively promote heritage and increase the wider public profile of heritage. The New South Wales Heritage Office is actively involved in an education and promotion program. Heritage planning practice seminars are regularly held in various locations in the State. Under the heritage network programs, regular meetings provide professional and educational development, and are considered an essential part of the Heritage Office’s agenda.

In February 1996 the first Heritage Advisers’ Training Course was held in Sydney and another was held in February 1997. This course is offered to Heritage Advisers at a modest charge (to cover accommodation and food costs) and all costs associated with the course venue and accommodation are met by the New South Wales Heritage Office. New Heritage Advisers are required to attend this training course and current Heritage Advisers who did not attend the 1996 course were required to attend the 1997 course. The course is also offered to full-time local council heritage officers and consultants preparing to be Advisers. Course evaluation indicated that participants enjoyed the training course, finding the opportunity to network and improve their skills base extremely rewarding.

Given their experience in this area, the experience of the New South Wales Heritage Office should be drawn upon in the establishment of any national training programs.

3.4.6 Reporting by Advisers

New South Wales Heritage Advisers are required, under their letter of engagement, to report as follows:

  • to keep a diary in relation to all work carried out, and
  • to provide an annual report to the Heritage Office on the ten areas of responsibility in the standard brief.

A model annual report is available through the New South Wales Heritage Office to provide a guide for Heritage Advisers.

3.4.7 Evaluation of service by Advisers

Volume Two summarises the evaluation by Heritage Advisers of the Heritage Advisory Service in operation in New South Wales. All Advisers indicated that they felt the service resulted in good management of heritage assets; 80 per cent of Heritage Advisers found their work satisfying and professionally challenging, with 20 per cent responding as uncertain.

The following suggestions were made by Advisers for improving the services:

  • increased professional development and education, particularly for council officers and councillors
  • increased back-up and support from within the council, both in terms of improved administrative arrangements and increased political support for adviser’s activities
  • greater adviser role in the preparation of council heritage policy to ensure heritage is part of the bigger development picture, and
  • increased time to be available for on-site assistance to owners.

3.4.8 Evaluation of service by councils

New South Wales councils overwhelmingly supported the usefulness of Heritage Advisers. There was 100 per cent support given to the Heritage Advisory Service being a worthwhile initiative and 92 per cent rated the service provided by the Adviser as either excellent or good. The services were unanimously described as assisting councils in the management of heritage assets. The following suggestions were made by local councils to improve Heritage Advisory Services in New South Wales:

  • increased time input and increase funding for the Heritage Adviser
  • a greater role in heritage education matters, including preparation of promotional material and general promotion within the media.

Several rural councils indicated concern of reduction in funding and recommended removal of sunset provisions for funding to allow for the continuation of service at the existing levels.

The brief required of Heritage Advisers is very broad and some councils considered it impossible to meet all the expectations on a one or two day per month basis.

3.4.9 Recommendations

  • Continuation of Heritage Advisory Services in New South Wales is strongly recommended. New South Wales leads the country in the management of heritage assets through this highly successful and decentralised program.
  • Given the success of the program it is recommended that further promotional material be prepared by the New South Wales Heritage Office about the positive benefits of these services in New South Wales. Case studies and economic evaluation should be prepared to illustrate that effective heritage management is essential to the economic and cultural climate of Australian cities and country towns.
  • The New South Wales Heritage Office should provide advice on training programs for Heritage Advisers, the establishment of any national networks and the preparation of a Heritage Advisers Handbook.

3.5 Northern Territory

3.5.1 Current status

The Northern Territory is the most recent area in Australia to introduce Heritage Advisory Services. They commenced in 1994 using National Estate Grants Program funding, which continues to part-fund this service. These services were introduced after the completion of the Heritage Management Plans undertaken in Alice Springs (1994) and in Darwin Central Area (1996) which recommended that the Government commence Heritage Advisory Services as an initiative to assist with effective management of declared places.

Unlike other States, the Heritage Conservation Branch in the Northern Territory has not prepared any written material, guidelines or formal contract for Heritage Advisers. Advisers are required to demonstrate knowledge and interest in heritage conservation and must be competent in complying with the provisions of the Burra Charter and the requirements of the Heritage Conservation Act 1991 in their advice. As at February 1997 three consultant architects provide advice in Darwin and Alice Springs regions. These architects are retained by the Heritage Conservation Branch, Department of Lands, Planning and Environment, and provide advice to owners of heritage listed places throughout the Northern Territory, particularly concentrating on Darwin and Alice Springs. The Northern Territory Heritage Advisory Service program is still in its infancy and forms part of the Northern Territory Government policy initiative for incentives for owners of declared places (announced in January 1996).

3.5.2 Funding

National Estate Grants Program funding was used to initiate the program and this currently forms 50 per cent of funding for Heritage Advisory Services in Darwin and Alice Springs. With the removal of National Estate funding this shortfall will need to be provided by the Northern Territory Government to ensure continuity of the service.

3.5.3 Delegation to Advisers

There is no delegation to Advisers and the Minister for the Department of Lands, Planning and Environment is the final authority for declared places (with Advisers providing advice to the Heritage Conservation Branch).

3.5.4 Information base available to Advisers

Comprehensive heritage assessment of sites in the Northern Territory has only recently been commenced. The Alice Springs Heritage Precinct Conservation Management Plan (1994) and Darwin Central Area Heritage Master Plan (1996) provide assessment of only certain sections of these two cities. The suburbs have not been comprehensively surveyed and this must make it difficult for Advisers to provide any sort of comparative advice when the ground work has not been undertaken.

3.5.5 Training and education

No formal training programs are in place for Heritage Advisers in the Northern Territory and there are no formal meetings of Advisers to network and discuss the latest Government heritage policies and initiatives.

3.5.6 Reporting by Advisers

There are no requirements for reporting outlined by the Heritage Conservation Branch, and formats and styles of reporting are determined by each of the three consultants.

3.5.7 Recommendations

  • Continuation of this Advisory Program in the Northern Territory program is strongly recommended and the Northern Territory Government should provide the funding required for this service to continue. The Federal Government should be lobbied for continued funding for these programs.
  • Training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors, and relevant Government officers would assist in the running of the Advisory Service Program in the Northern Territory. The recommendation elsewhere in this report that the Federal Government facilitate and fund such training programs would be of great assistance to this fledgling program in the Northern Territory.
  • The preparation of standards and a Heritage Advisers Handbook would be of considerable assistance in the Northern Territory. Preparation of annual reports by Advisers is recommended.
  • The proposal for annual or biennial meetings of Advisers to allow for networking within the Territory and around Australia could also be of assistance as there is little opportunity currently for cross-flowing of ideas among professionals and consultants involved in this area in the Northern Territory.

3.6 Queensland

3.6.1 Current status

Heritage Advisory Services commenced in Queensland in 1992 using National Estate Grants Program funding, which continues to provide the basis for funding, apart from local government contributions. In February 1997 there were six Heritage Advisers operating at Maryborough, Charters Towers, Townsville, Mackay, Toowoomba and Ipswich.

The service is coordinated by the Cultural Heritage Branch, Department of Environment, and Advisers are contracted by local councils. The Queensland Department of Environment Corporate Plan 1996–98 (under the Conservation Program) outlines the establishment of local Heritage Advisory Services at regional locations as a major program output.

The Cultural Heritage Branch has developed information material about Heritage Advisory Services which covers the following:

  • Queensland Heritage Advisory Service brief
  • Queensland Heritage Advisory Service guidelines for the appointment of Heritage Advisers by local government (Draft) which include the following:
    • aims
    • benefits
    • administration/management
    • funding
    • qualifications and experience required of Adviser
    • training
    • conflict of interest
    • further information

      Note: It is intended to produce the guidelines in leaflet form for distribution to local government, but this initiative has been delayed due to funding uncertainties.
  • Queensland Heritage Advisory Service guidelines for the appointment of Heritage Advisory Committees by local government (Draft)
  • Standard brief for Heritage Adviser
  • Heritage Advisory Service – Guidelines for reporting (Draft).

3.6.2 Funding

The Queensland Heritage Advisory Service program is still in its infancy and is currently threatened with the cut-back in National Estate Grants funding which has provided approximately 29 per cent of funding for this program since its inception in 1992. The Department is currently exploring alternative funding opportunities for the program with some difficulty. The expansion of the service to the southern Darling Downs around Warwick to Cairns and south-western Queensland is recommended but requires funding. Support is offered to councils on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

3.6.3 Delegation to Advisers

Heritage Advisers do not have delegation under the Queensland Heritage Act, 1992, but do provide advice to the Department of Environment on Section 34 development applications.

3.6.4 Information base available to Advisers

By comparison with southern States, the information base available to Queensland Heritage Advisers is limited, making the effective management of heritage assets problematic. Heritage surveys have not been undertaken in many local government areas and feedback from Advisers has indicated that this has made the operation of certain services difficult. The expectation for Advisers to prepare local heritage surveys as part of their duties is not effective or achievable given the one to two month full-time allocation of Advisers’ time required to undertake this work.

3.6.5 Training and education

No formal training programs are in place for Heritage Advisers but annual meetings are held in Brisbane for Advisers to network and discuss latest Government heritage policies and initiatives.

3.6.6 Reporting by Advisers

Queensland Heritage Advisers are required to report to a Heritage Advisory Committee. Draft guidelines for reporting have been prepared which outline that Advisers are expected to provide:

  • monthly reports or a diary report
  • quarterly reports, and
  • annual reports.

Annual reports require Advisers to report:

  • on advice given, education and awareness, identification and documentation, town planning, major issues, and
  • to provide comments on difficulties in regard to the Adviser’s brief, to identify priorities for the forthcoming year and to make recommendations on any relevant matter.

3.6.7 Evaluation of service by Advisers

Volume Two summarises the evaluation by Heritage Advisers of the Heritage Advisory Service in operation in Queensland. All Advisers indicated that they felt the service resulted in good management of heritage assets; 71 per cent of Heritage Advisers found their work satisfying and professionally challenging (29 per cent did not answer this question). The section 'Overall evaluation of the service' was not answered in many questionnaires.

Since the services in Queensland are still in their formative stages the major suggestion for improving the service was greater allocation of time and financial resources. In addition, the need for a better resource base, and training and back-up from council were also advocated.

3.6.8 Evaluation of service by councils

Councils in Queensland generally supported the usefulness of Heritage Advisers There was 100 per cent support given to Heritage Advisory Services being a worthwhile initiative and 80 per cent rated the service provided as excellent with 20 per cent responding that the service was good. The services were unanimously described as assisting councils in management of heritage assets. The following suggestions were made by local councils in Queensland to improve Heritage Advisory Services:

  • increased time input and increase funding for the Heritage Adviser
  • greater block periods of time
  • planning legislation to support Heritage Advisers in promotion, conservation and preservation of heritage assets
  • ensured security provision of ongoing funding, and
  • a greater role in heritage education matters including preparation of promotional material and general promotion within the media.

3.6.9 Recommendations

  • Continuation of current services in Queensland is recommended as these services assist in the management of heritage assets in Queensland.
  • Currently, funding of these services will need to be taken over by State Government with local government contributions. A cabinet submission has been made requesting ongoing funding for Heritage Advisory Services.
  • Training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors, and relevant Government officers would assist in the running of the Heritage Advisory Service program in Queensland. The recommendation elsewhere in this report that the Federal Government facilitate and fund such training programs would be of great assistance in Queensland.
  • The provision of a Heritage Advisers Handbook would assist this program, together with a database and an annual Heritage Advisers newsletter.

3.7 South Australia

3.7.1 Current status

South Australia was the third State in Australia (after Victoria and New South Wales) to introduce Heritage Advisory Services, which commenced in 1987 at Burra. As at February 1997 ten positions exist serving 19 locations. More than one quarter of this service is funded through the National Estate Grants Program and the cuts in funding will seriously affect the service. The service is managed by the State Heritage Branch of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Advisers are contracted to the State Heritage Branch, currently on six monthly contracts (previously on annual contracts). Funding arrangements vary among metropolitan councils with generally higher funding available in municipalities with State heritage areas. Generally for rural areas the local government contribution is less. The State Heritage Branch has compiled written information about the service which is available to councils and includes the following:

  • general notes on the Heritage Advisory Service for South Australia (May 1995). This includes the following information:
    • background to heritage management
    • principal objectives
    • principal duties of a Heritage Adviser
    • coverage of Heritage Advisory Services (currently nine locations)
    • proposed extension of Heritage Advisory Services (the proposal is to expand the service and it is recognised there is potential for adjacent councils to share the services of a Heritage Adviser, eg mid-north towns, Cape York Peninsular towns, Barossa Valley townships and Fleurieu Peninsular townships)
    • employment (which is directly to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as distinct from individual councils, to enable Advisers to make representations directly to the Minister, thereby expediting the approval process)
  • Heritage Advisers – who they are and what they do – a double sided leaflet which is a summary of a published pamphlet explaining Heritage Advisory Services.

Heritage Advisers in South Australia are the only Advisers in Australia to have delegated authority (under the South Australian Heritage Act 1993) to act on behalf of the Minister on approvals required for property on the State Heritage Register.

The current amalgamation of councils within South Australia has greatly increased the local government areas with which Advisers now liaise.

3.7.2 Funding

The budget for South Australian Heritage Advisory Services has been cut by one quarter, with the withdrawal of National Estate Grants funding. Advisers are currently on a six month contract. Future funding and future management of these services are now uncertain and the program is currently at risk, with considerable concern expressed by local councils.

3.7.3 Delegation to Advisers

The South Australian Heritage Act, 1993 allows for Ministerial delegation to Heritage Advisers for the processing of development approval associated with places on the State Heritage Register made possible by contracts directly with the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. This is the only State or Territory in Australia where this occurs and is seen as a very positive aspect of this program as it makes development application processing much more expeditious.

3.7.4 Information base available to Advisers

A carefully managed program of heritage surveys has covered almost all of the State by 1997 and many early heritage surveys are currently being reviewed in the light of current legislation. There is generally a good information base available to Advisers from local and regional surveys.

3.7.5 Training and education

No formal training programs are in place for Heritage Advisers in South Australia but meetings of Advisers are held once or twice a year in Adelaide to enable Advisers to network.

3.7.6 Reporting by Advisers

Advisers are required to report monthly to the State Heritage Branch in a standard format as follows.

Date Heritage Status File No. for Registered Place Address Advice
         
         
         
         
         
         

This reporting system allows the State Heritage Branch to easily evaluate and assess time spent on State and local places and areas.

There is no requirement to prepare annual reports.

3.7.7 Evaluation of service by Advisers

Volume Two summarises the evaluation by Heritage Advisers of the Heritage Advisory Service in operation in South Australia. All Advisers indicated that they felt the service resulted in good management of heritage assets; 83 per cent of Heritage Advisers found their work satisfying and professionally challenging, with 17 per cent responding as uncertain.

The following suggestions were made by Advisers for improving the service:

  • increased professional development and education, particularly for council officers and councillors
  • increased back-up and support from within the council, both in terms of improved administrative arrangements and increased political support for Adviser’s activities
  • better remuneration (There was general discussion at workshop and feedback in the questionnaires that Advisers were underpaid for the work undertaken. Generally time between visits, where advice is often provided in the consultant’s office, is not budgeted for and generally goes unpaid.)
  • greater Adviser role in the preparation of council heritage policy to ensure heritage is part of the bigger development picture
  • increased time to be available for on-site assistance to owners.

3.7.8 Evaluation of service by councils

South Australian councils overwhelmingly supported the usefulness of Heritage Advisers. There was 100 per cent support given to the Heritage Advisory Service being a worthwhile initiative; 74 per cent rated the service provided by the Adviser as excellent; 14 per cent responded that the service was good and 12 per cent indicated the service was fair. The services were unanimously described as assisting councils in the management of heritage assets.

The following suggestions were made by local councils to improve Heritage Advisory Services in South Australia:

  • increased time input and increased funding for the Heritage Adviser
  • a greater role in heritage education matters including preparation of promotional material and general promotion within the media
  • improved certainty of funding
  • improved access by council to information on heritage places
  • the Heritage Branch to provide guidelines for the assessment of development applications to assist with avoiding disputes.

3.7.9 Recommendations

  • Continuation of current level and management of services is strongly recommended as this program assists local government in the management of heritage assets.
  • Funding provided to councils by State Government could vary and a similar approach introduced to that which exists in New South Wales where metropolitan councils have a requirement to either fully fund services or fund, for example, 75% of these services with State Government providing 25% of funding and associated training of council staff and Advisers. There are different options for ongoing services in rural areas which need to be examined in conjunction with the State Heritage Branch.
  • The Heritage Branch should establish dialogue with newly amalgamated councils where these do not have Heritage Advisers and emphasise the usefulness of these services. The provision of a Heritage Advisers Handbook and associated training programs (facilitated by the Federal Government) would be viewed by these councils as extremely beneficial.
  • Continued running of heritage training programs such as the highly successful Heritage Planning Course (facilitated through the National Trust with National Estate funding) is recommended. A training course specifically for Advisers is also recommended. Advisers should be required to prepare annual reports.

3.8 Tasmania

3.8.1 Current status

Tasmania has no formal Heritage Advisory Services; however, some heritage advice is available at local government level. There are 29 local government municipalities in Tasmania and three of these councils are serviced by heritage officers or their equivalent who undertake similar tasks to Heritage Advisers elsewhere in Australia.

The Historic Cultural Heritage Act, 1995 commenced on 28 February 1997 and established the Tasmanian Heritage Register and the Tasmanian Heritage Fund. The Historic Cultural Heritage Act gives the Heritage Council the approval authority to all works to places and sites which are listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. In practice where the Heritage Council is satisfied with the level of protection that is ensured it may delegate its powers to a council. Therefore a planning scheme may still remain as the principal means for the identification and protection of heritage places. A local council may apply to the Heritage Council to obtain financial assistance to undertake heritage surveys etc. The Heritage Council is supported by a secretariat comprising a Senior Heritage Adviser, a Manager, a Registrar and a Clerk. The Heritage Council Chairman has been appointed but the Heritage Council of fifteen people is still to be appointed.

The heritage legislation includes provision for the designation of heritage areas but area declaration is for a limited time period of five years. After this period it is assumed that local councils will have taken over the necessary planning responsibility for appropriate heritage management of these areas.

Relevance of Heritage Advisory Programs in Tasmania

It will be necessary for the Heritage Council to establish an umbrella program which facilitates the provision of appropriate heritage advice in Tasmania. A heritage advisory program in Tasmania will allow for provision of advice in the following ways:

  • permanent Heritage Officer positions with council
  • heritage professionals acting as consultant Heritage Advisers for council
  • Heritage Advisers employed by the Heritage Council to provide advice on heritage places within regions.

The establishment of a national framework for Heritage Advisory Services would considerably assist the Tasmanian Government in the establishment of an appropriate heritage management structure in Tasmania. Support was given to the role of the Federal Government in facilitating a national framework and methodology for Heritage Advisory Services to operate throughout Australia.

3.8.2 Recommendations

  • It is recommended that State-coordinated Heritage Advisory Services be established in Tasmania. Funding from the Federal Government for the establishment of these services is justified as previously Tasmania has never received funds for Heritage Advisory Services.
  • Training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors, and relevant Government officers should be a top priority as these would greatly assist in the running of the Advisory Service Program in Tasmania. The recommendation elsewhere in this report that the Federal Government facilitate and fund such training programs would be of great assistance to a newly established program in Tasmania.
  • The preparation of standards and a Heritage Advisers Handbook would be of considerable assistance in Tasmania. Preparation of annual reports by Advisers is recommended.
  • The proposal for annual or biennial meetings of Advisers to allow for networking within Tasmania and around Australia could also be of assistance as there is little opportunity currently for cross-flowing of ideas for professionals and consultants involved in this area in Tasmania.
  • It is recommended that the State Heritage Fund be augmented by the following:
    • Percentage allocation of funds from proceeds of sale of heritage listed buildings – There are numerous buildings in Hobart which the Government has resolved to sell and it was strongly recommended that the Government be lobbied to allocate some of the proceeds of sale of these properties to the Heritage Fund.
    • Corporate sponsorship – Discussion was held regarding the Trust Bank of Tasmania percentage allocation of profits to community development programs. It was suggested that the Heritage Council should pursue at high level the possibility of allocation of some funds to the Heritage Fund.
    • Centenary of Federation funding – The Centenary of Federation Committee has allocated funding for centenary projects and this source should be investigated for heritage management funding opportunities.

3.9 Victoria

3.9.1 Current status

Victoria was the first State in Australia to introduce Heritage Advisory Services, commencing in 1977 in Maldon, and the State Government contribution to these services comes from the Victorian State Heritage Fund. There are currently 28 Advisers serving 38 local government areas and the program is coordinated by Heritage Victoria. Local government is responsible for engaging the Heritage Adviser, and the maximum grant to any one council is $10,000. Grants are provided on a dollar-for-dollar basis with councils being required to at least match the Department’s contribution. Heritage Victoria have prepared written information about the program which is available and includes the following:

  • a list of current Heritage Advisers
  • Heritage Advisory Service – recommended consultancy brief and statement of qualifications and duties (dated 14/4/94)
  • reporting requirements
  • guidelines for operation
  • conditions of grant.

No council which has applied for a service has been refused and there are currently 38 municipalities out of a total of 78 in Victoria with services.

3.9.2 Funding

The Director of Heritage Victoria described the services "without doubt ... one of the Victorian Government’s most cost effective funding programs". The service has received $150,000 per annum State Government funding and this figure has not altered for many years. National Estate grant funding is not used in this service and ongoing funding is secure. The program is not at risk with the removal of National Estate grant component funding.

3.9.3 Delegation to Advisers

Heritage Advisers do not have ministerial delegation under the Victorian Heritage Act, 1995 for places on the Historic Buildings Register. However, the Government is examining delegation to local government of some classes of permit applications for Heritage Register places but only to those councils employing a Heritage Adviser.

3.9.4 Information base available to Advisers

Victoria has a long tradition of scholarly and extensive assessment of heritage places and areas with many consultants and Advisers being trained at Melbourne University as part of their undergraduate architectural course. The information base was rated by Advisers as either good or fair and over half of the locations had completed a heritage survey review and all areas had undertaken a heritage survey. National Estate grants have been used to assist with funding of heritage survey reviews.

3.8.5 Training and education

No formal training programs are in place for Heritage Advisers in Victoria and little networking or professional development is facilitated by Heritage Victoria. Advisers expressed a desire for Heritage Victoria to be more actively engaged in the training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors.

3.9.6 Reporting by Advisers

Advisers are required to keep a diary, but there is no requirement for them to prepare an annual report. The council is required to forward an annual report to the Department of Planning and Development.

3.9.7 Evaluation of service by Advisers

Volume Two summarises the evaluation by Heritage Advisers of the Heritage Advisory Service in operation in Victoria – 91 per cent of Advisers indicated that they felt the service resulted in better management of heritage assets, 87 per cent of Heritage Advisers found their work satisfying and professionally challenging, with 13 per cent responding as uncertain. Concern was expressed about the drop-off in services following council amalgamations where new larger councils perceive heritage controls will impede development. For example Port Phillip Council (St Kilda, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne) has greatly cut back its service since amalgamation.

The following suggestions were made by Advisers for improving the service:

  • review existing conservation studies where this has not occurred
  • increase incentive programs
  • increase professional development and education, particularly for council officers and councillors
  • increase back-up and support from within the council, both in terms of improved administrative arrangements and increased political support for Adviser’s activities
  • provide better remuneration (there was general discussion at workshops and feedback in the questionnaires that Advisers were underpaid for the work undertaken)
  • increase Adviser role in the preparation of council heritage policy to ensure heritage is part of the bigger development picture, and
  • increase time available for on-site assistance to owners.

3.9.8 Evaluation of service by councils

Victorian councils overwhelmingly supported the usefulness of Heritage Advisers. The services were unanimously described as assisting councils in the management of heritage assets. There was 96 per cent support given to the Heritage Advisory Service being a worthwhile initiative; 70 per cent rated the service provided by the Adviser as excellent and 17 per cent responded that the service was good (13 per cent did not respond to the question).

The following suggestions were made by local councils to improve Heritage Advisory Services in Victoria:

  • increased time input and increased funding for the Heritage Adviser
  • a greater role in heritage education matters including the preparation of promotional material and general promotion within the media
  • a small pool of advisers to draw on to allow best advice to be selected for a particular task
  • improved access by council to information on heritage places
  • Heritage Victoria to provide guidelines for the assessment of Development Applications to assist with avoiding disputes
  • broaden scope of adviser’s role to include Aboriginal heritage.

3.9.9 Recommendations

  • Continuation of current services and management of services is strongly recommended as this program assists local government in the management of heritage assets. Professional development of advisers should be provided by Heritage Victoria.
  • The preparation of standards and a Heritage Advisers Handbook would be of considerable assistance in Victoria. Preparation of annual reports by Advisers is recommended.
  • Funding provided to councils could vary and a similar approach introduced to that which exists in New South Wales where metropolitan councils have a requirement to either fully fund services or fund, for example, 75 per cent of these services with State Government providing 25 per cent of funding and associated training of council staff and Advisers. However, existing funding basis for services should be continued in rural areas.
  • Training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors, and relevant Government officers would assist in the running of the Advisory Service Program in Victoria. The recommendation elsewhere in this report that the Federal Government facilitate and fund such training programs would be of great assistance in Victoria.
  • Heritage Victoria should continue the dialogue with amalgamated councils where these do not have Heritage Advisers and emphasise the usefulness of these services. (All councils are consulted annually regarding the benefits of a Heritage Adviser and how they are funded.) The provision of a Heritage Advisers Handbook and associated training programs facilitated by the Federal Government would be viewed by these councils as extremely beneficial.

3.10 Western Australia

3.10.1 Current status

Western Australia introduced Heritage Advisory Services in 1992, in the same year as Queensland, using National Estate Grants Program funding. As at February 1997, two regional positions exist, one in the mid-west region (based in Geraldton) and the second in the Kalgoorlie–Boulder region. However, by May 1997 four additional Advisers have been appointed. The service is coordinated by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and Advisers are contracted to the Heritage Council. Written material prepared by the Heritage Council includes the following:

  • duty statement
  • conditions of appointment.

3.10.2 Funding

The service is coordinated by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and Advisers are contracted to the Heritage Council. Funding for positions varies: the Adviser in Geraldton is fully funded by the Western Australian State Government and the Adviser in Kalgoorlie–Boulder is funded 50 per cent by the local authority and 50 per cent by the National Estate Grants Program. With the removal of National Estate funding this shortfall will need to be provided by the Western Australian Government to provide continuity of the service.

3.10.3 Delegation to Advisers

There is no delegation to Advisers and the Heritage Council of Western Australia is the final authority for declared places.

3.10.4 Information base available to Advisers

Comprehensive assessment of heritage sites in Western Australia has only recently been commenced.

3.10.5 Training and education

No formal training programs are in place for Heritage Advisers in Western Australia. Quarterly meetings of the six Advisers has recently commenced.

3.10.6 Reporting by Advisers

Reporting requirements are outlined by the Western Australian Heritage Council. Monthly reports are required by the Heritage Council.

3.10.7 Recommendations

  • Continuation of this Advisory Program in the Western Australian program is strongly recommended.
  • Increased training and education of Advisers, council officers and councillors, and relevant Government officers should be a top priority as this would greatly assist in the running of the Advisory Service Program in the Western Australian program. The recommendation elsewhere in this report that the Federal Government facilitate and fund such training programs would be of great assistance to this fledgling program in Western Australia.
  • The existence of national standards and a Heritage Advisers Handbook would be of considerable assistance in Western Australia. Annual or biennial meetings of Advisers to allow for networking around Australia could also be of assistance.

3.11 Other agencies

3.11.1 The Australian Heritage Commission – the role of Federal Government

Current status

The main area of involvement of the Australian Heritage Commission in Heritage Advisory Services has been administering the National Estates Grants Program on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. The Australian Heritage Commission liaises with Heritage Advisers on local issues (such as Commonwealth-owned properties) and the Commission continues to promote delegation of detailed advice to the local level for sites within local areas. With Federal budget cut-backs, it is unlikely that the National Estate Grants Program will be able to continue funding Heritage Advisory Services at the State level. However, there is an important opportunity for the National Estate Grants Program nationally to assist with the facilitation of a national framework and policy for Heritage Advisory Services.

In 1996 the Australian Heritage Commission released a discussion paper (A National Future for Australia’s Heritage) with background notes. A series of workshops were held around Australia to discuss the ongoing role and responsibilities of the Australian Heritage Commission. The development of an integrated approach to heritage protection was seen as the major future focus for the Commission.

Recommendations

This report outlines that Heritage Advisory Services should be a priority for the Federal Government because they are:

  • the most cost-effective way to conserve and manage heritage at the local community level
  • a community-based activity "increasing public awareness, concern and community education", identified by the Australian Heritage Commission as the preferred approach for heritage management.

It is recommended that ongoing Federal funding for effective and successful heritage advisory programs should be lobbied for in future Federal budgets, given the community value of these services.

The Federal Government should now take an active role in facilitating and providing funding through the National Estate Grants Program for the establishment of a national framework for Heritage Advisory Services to ensure nationwide consistency. This could be achieved as follows:

  • Training – In all states of Australia (except for New South Wales where training of Advisers has recently commenced) there is a strong need for training of new Advisers and professional development of Advisers in existing positions. This has been requested by Advisers in the consultation process. Networking and cross-flow of expertise and ideas was considered an essential and positive part of being a Heritage Adviser, and in certain States such as Victoria there was concern expressed as to the lack of networking and training facilitated by Heritage Victoria. It is recommended that the Federal Government facilitate the establishment of training programs in States where these do not exist, drawing on the experience of the New South Wales Heritage Office training course. A consultancy should be established to run these courses in the various States. A cost sharing arrangement (eg 50 per cent) should be established to facilitate these programs.
  • Heritage Advisers Handbook – Using this report as a basis, it is recommended that the Federal Government facilitate and provide funding for the preparation of a Heritage Advisers Handbook which outlines standards required of Advisers and includes reporting examples. This would supplement documents such as the recently prepared South Australian Heritage Planning Bulletin and the New South Wales Heritage Manual, but would be particularly related to activities of Heritage Advisers.
  • National Heritage Advisers newsletter – Coordinated and funded by the Federal Government. It recommended that the responsibilities for production and distribution be rotated among State Heritage Offices.
  • Computerised database of Heritage Advisers by name and location – A computerised database of Heritage Advisers should be established to provide linkages across States and allow Advisers who have queries related to specific areas to contact individuals expeditiously.
  • Annual or biennial National Heritage Advisers meetings – These would be useful for Advisers, and local and State Government agencies to facilitate networking and professional development on a national level. However, most important is the regular meeting of Advisers at the State level.

The Heritage Guidelines Stage 3 Progress Report, 1/10/96, commissioned by the Australian Heritage Commission (undertaken by Chris Johnson of Context Pty Ltd) outlined that clearly the employment of Heritage Officers by councils was considered essential support to any heritage guidelines and essential to efficient management of heritage assets at local government and community level.

3.11.2 National Trust officers

Consultation with National Trust officers indicated that five out of eight National Trust State branches use the services of a heritage architect or Heritage Adviser to advise on National Trust owned properties. The South Australian National Trust funds their position by National Estate grant funding and this will not be available after 1997. The other four capital city headquarters fund their service out of the National Trust operations budget.

3.11.3 Local council Heritage Officers

There are many positions within local government across Australia which serve a similar purpose to State Heritage Advisory Services but are not financed by any State program. Many capital city councils have full-time heritage architect positions providing services similar to a Heritage Adviser. A notable example is the city of Adelaide where the City of Adelaide Heritage Incentives Scheme provides the support for the heritage architect's advice. Similar positions and accompanying schemes occur in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. These city positions are not part of the Heritage Advisory Services operated by the State, although formal and informal networking does occur.

In Victoria there are currently six Heritage Advisory Services which receive no financial assistance through the State Government program but which operate in larger regional areas or country cities. In New South Wales, at least twelve full-time Heritage Officers are employed in metropolitan councils without assistance from the State Government. In Tasmania, three Heritage Officers are employed by three local councils.

Many Sydney councils (such as Randwick and Marrickville) commenced with a part-time Heritage Adviser (appointed through the New South Wales Heritage Advisory Service program) but these councils have now taken full responsibility for employment and management of their own Heritage Advisory Services without any Government funding input.

Many other local government authorities in other States, such as South Australia, obtain heritage advice on an 'as needs' consultancy basis without any funding assistance from State Government.

3.11.4 State Government building management agencies

Heritage architects are employed by the State and Territory Governments throughout Australia to advise on State Government owned heritage assets. There is a Heritage Buildings Advisory Group to which these architects belong, which reports to a National Public Works Council. This Advisory Group has met three times since its establishment in 1992 – the first meeting was in Fremantle (1992), then in Adelaide (1993) and in Melbourne (1994). The group has not met since mid-1994. The purpose of such a group is to liaise and exchange expertise with other heritage architects managing State-owned buildings, and despite the recent lack of formal meetings, the networking has been found to be successful and effective.

3.11.5 Summary evaluation and recommendations for other agencies

  • Evaluation – Evaluation of the National Trust Advisory Services (Refer Volume 2, Section 9) indicate that National Trust branches are considerably assisted by a heritage architect or Heritage Adviser. South Australia relies fully on National Estate Grants funding for this position, with New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria funding the positions out of the National Trust operations budget. Frustration was expressed by those States which could not afford this advice. In-house local heritage officers or architects function efficiently around the country as part of the planning process, with the major capital cities utilising these services to achieve maximum benefit. State Government agencies require the services of their in-house architects to undertake building conservation works to State-owned properties and these appear to operate sufficiently with satisfactory networking available. Confusion can occur when works proposed for one site (for example a school or gaol) which is in Government ownership is referred to more than one person or agency for consideration. In some cases the National Trust, the responsible Government Heritage Agency and the local Heritage Adviser can all be providing advice on one application, resulting in doubling-up in expertise and inefficient use of resources.
  • Recommendations – Ongoing advice services provided by National Trust, in-house heritage architects and Advisers at local councils and State Government heritage architects are essential and critical elements in the effective management of heritage places in Australia. The professionals involved in these services should have access to the proposed training and networking programs. It is recommended that the Adviser be the first point of contact for processing applications to make the procedure as efficient as possible. Liaison with other Government agencies and Heritage Advisory Services may be required.