National Heritage List criteria

Heritage criteria, thresholds, and statutory listings are devices for identifying and protecting - places we wish to keep. They are the primary means by which the heritage values of such places are articulated, and for guiding the management of these places.

The National Heritage List is a list of places with outstanding natural, Indigenous or historic heritage value to the nation. The Australian Heritage Council (the Council) assesses if a National Heritage List-nominated place is considered to have heritage value and is required to advise the Minister for the Environment (the Minister) if the place meets one or more of nine National Heritage List criteria.

National Heritage List criteria

The National Heritage criteria against which the heritage values of a place are assessed are:

  1. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia's natural or cultural history
  2. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Australia's natural or cultural history
  3. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Australia's natural or cultural history
  4. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of:
    1. a class of Australia's natural or cultural places; or
    2. a class of Australia's natural or cultural environments;
  5. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics valued by a community or cultural group
  6. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period
  7. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons
  8. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Australia's natural or cultural history
  9. the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place's importance as part of Indigenous tradition.

Note: The cultural aspect of a criterion means the Indigenous cultural aspect, the non-Indigenous cultural aspect, or both.

Thresholds

As well as assessing a place against criteria for its heritage value, the Council is also required to apply a 'significance threshold'. This test helps the Council to judge the level of significance of a place's heritage value by asking 'how important are these values?'.

To reach the threshold for the National Heritage List, a place must have 'outstanding' heritage value to the nation. This means that it must be important to the Australian community as a whole.

To determine whether a place has 'outstanding' heritage values, it is compared to other, similar types of places. This allows the Council to determine if one place is 'more' or 'less' significant compared to other similar places, or if it is unique. The degree of significance can also relate to the geographic area, for instance, the extent of a place's significance locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.