Assessing and managing social significance

Since the early 1990s, concepts of communal attachment to heritage places derived from experience and practice have achieved wide-spread levels of recognition. Over a similar period, challenges associated with assessing and managing these places through existing statutory regimes have become increasingly evident.

In 2017, the Heritage Council of Victoria commissioned a project to explore approaches to enable the Heritage Council of Victoria and Heritage Victoria to more effectively and consistently identify, and thus protect, places of significance to the state because of their social value, under Criterion G. The project considered many issues, including the challenges associated with developing an evidence base for social value and the complexity of establishing threshold guidelines to identify places of social significance at the state level and approaches to managing social value under the Heritage Act 2017.

A project team from Lovell Chen, the Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage (University of Melbourne) and Extent Heritage were commissioned to conduct the first phase of the project with a project steering committee composed of Heritage Council members and Heritage Victoria officers. Their final report and recommendations were delivered to the Heritage Council in June 2018.

The project concluded in April 2019 and resulted in a new section on Criterion G in the Victorian Heritage Register Criteria and Threshold Guidelines 2019, and a new guidance document for nominators: Guidance on identifying places and objects of state-level social value in Victoria.

A summary of the main changes can be found here.

Acknowledgements: The Heritage Council acknowledges that this project draws on the work of numerous other practitioners in the field of social significance, in particular Chris Johnston for her extensive contributions over more than 20 years, and Context for the preparation of the initial scoping document for the project titled Recognising Social Significance: A Scoping Report and regularly presenting to Council on the issue.