Heritage Advisory Services: Towards best practice - Ongoing auditing, training programs and development of services

Elizabeth Vines and Katrina McDougall, Conservation and Heritage Consultants

Towards Best Practice

6 Ongoing auditing, training programs and development of services

6.1 Auditing of services

Regular evaluation of services provided by Advisers to the council and community is essential to their ongoing successful implementation. The provision of an annual report (as recommended in Section 4.3.7) allows the local council and the State Heritage Agency to evaluate the service and the performance of individual Advisers. In many States this is currently not required and it is recommended that annual reports are a requisite part of the service.

Some councils may choose to evaluate the effectiveness of the service in the community. A relevant example of this evaluation is that undertaken each year by the Ipswich Council (Queensland) where ratepayers are sent an evaluation form with their rate notice. The results of this evaluation provide the council with information considered necessary for the commitment of ongoing council funding. This evaluation form asks the following simple questions:

1. Do you consider the council’s Heritage Advisory Service to be a worthwhile initiative for Ipswich?

YES/NO

2. How do you rate the overall level of information and service provided to you by the council’s Heritage Adviser?

EXCELLENT / GOOD / FAIR / POOR / VERY POOR

3. Please outline any suggestions that you may have to improve the service:

6.2 Professional training and development of Advisers

This report recommends that professional training of Advisers by way of formal training programs and informal networking with other Advisers is essential to maintain a high standard of advice and service. (Refer Section 3.11 for details outlining the role of the Federal Government in the development of training packages and programs.)

6.3 Requirements for new Advisers

Where possible it is recommended that new Advisers attend a training course such as those discussed prior to commencement in their position. New South Wales has now introduced annual training programs for Advisers held in February each year and this allows new Advisers, or consultants considering becoming an Adviser, to be assisted prior to commencement in the job. Where these training programs are not available, informal annual meetings facilitated by State Heritage Agencies are considered essential.

A prospective adviser should have the following skills:

  • adequate knowledge and suitable experience in heritage conservation work
  • an ability to actively promote heritage conservation through education and management, and
  • an ability to negotiate acceptable solutions to problems involving heritage matters where these arise.

Most State heritage agencies maintain a register of consultants with experience in heritage matters and these should be referred to by interested councils.

New South Wales Heritage Council has established an Accreditation Working Party to document the appropriate methods and standards to use to determine professional capability for heritage specialists in New South Wales. It has produced a discussion paper containing draft competencies criteria which are considered minimum qualifications. The working party is currently calling for comment.