Respect for our cultural heritage involves protecting places and objects that have importance to us as a community. Identifying and registering places and objects of cultural significance helps us to protect and conserve them.
Heritage places and objects in Victoria are considered to be of either:
- state significance, or
- local significance.
Various legislation governs heritage protection at all levels.
State-level (Victorian Heritage Register)
Heritage places and objects of ‘State-level cultural heritage significance’ are included in the Victorian Heritage Register. To be included in the Victorian Heritage Register, places and objects must meet the Heritage Council of Victoria’s assessment criteria. All heritage places and objects registered by the Heritage Council are considered to be important to understanding the history and development of Victoria.
Anyone can nominate heritage places and objects for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register. Registered heritage places are legally protected and cannot be altered without a permit or permit exemption from Heritage Victoria.
Places that are of State-level cultural heritage significance are managed in accordance with the Heritage Act 2017.
Changes to the Heritage Act commenced on 1 February 2024. Discover more information about changes to the Heritage Council’s processes.
Local-level (Heritage Overlay)
Local councils record and protect places of value to the local community. Places of local significance may be protected by listing on a schedule to the Heritage Overlay, under your local council’s planning scheme. Local government manages the identification and protection of places under the planning scheme.
Councils are responsible for issuing planning permits for the use and development of heritage places under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
Classification by the National Trust
The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is a community organisation that works towards preserving and protecting heritage places. Classification by the National Trust does not entail legal recognition.
Although the National Trust plays an important role in advocating heritage protection, it is not responsible for issuing heritage or planning permits.
Archaeology (Victorian Heritage Inventory)
The Victorian Heritage Inventory is a list of known historical archaeological sites in the State. Sites can be included in both the Victorian Heritage Register and the Victorian Heritage Inventory. An archaeological site is a place which:
- Contains buried evidence like an artefact, deposit or feature which is 75 years old or more.
- Provides information about past activity.
- Needs archaeological methods to reveal information about the place.
- Isn’t associated only with Aboriginal use.
The Heritage Act 2017 also allows for the inclusion of a site that is less than 75 years old in the Victorian Heritage Inventory, on the recommendation of the Executive Director, if the site is considered to have archaeological value.
The Heritage Act 2017 also protects sites that are not listed in the Victorian Heritage Inventory.
If you think you have found evidence of an archaeological site, you must submit it to Heritage Victoria. All archaeological sites in Victoria are legally protected and cannot be disturbed without consent from Heritage Victoria.
Historical archaeological sites are managed in accordance with the Heritage Act 2017.
Victorian Heritage Database
You can find information on places and objects of historical and cultural significance in Victoria in the Victorian Heritage Database. The database lists not only all places and objects that are included in the Victorian Heritage Register, but a large number of heritage sites and items that are of local heritage significance or listed by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). Entries in the database are labelled according to the relevant authority.