Valuing Victoria’s Heritage

‘Value has always been the reason underlying heritage conservation. It is self evident that no society makes an effort to conserve what it does not value.’

– M. de la Torre and R. Mason 2002, Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage 


The heritage industry has researched the value of cultural heritage for decades.

Value is currently considered under three broad categories:

  • the economic value of heritage
  • the social value of heritage
  • the environmental value of heritage.

Research into the economic and social value has a long history. Australia’s first conference on heritage economics was held in 2000. Important research followed, including:

  • ‘Valuing the priceless: the value of historic heritage in Australia’ (2005), and
  • ‘The value of heritage: summary report’ (2017) published by the Victorian Government.

These two reports are important milestones in Australian heritage valuation literature. They both use choice modelling to elicit the community’s ‘willingness to pay’ for heritage.

Research looking beyond the economic value of heritage is now increasing. Studies into the wellbeing benefits of engaging with heritage is an emerging field. The environmental benefits of conserving heritage is also a newer field of study.

In 2023 the Heritage Council engaged Extent Heritage and Kate Clark to synthesise information on the value of heritage. The report synthesises research on the economic, social and environmental value of heritage. It uses information from both overseas and in Australia. The result is a large document with over 200 cited sources in relation to the value of heritage.


Access and download the reports below.

NOTE: Part 1 – Why Heritage: A synthesis of evidence for the social, economic and environmental impacts of heritage (2023), published on 8 April 2024, has since been corrected with changes to:

  • Figure 3, Headline Findings, on page 17
  • Number 10, Heritage Myths, on page 22

Please be advised that any versions of the document downloaded or circulated between 8 April and 24 April 2024 should be disregarded.

The value of heritage: summary report (2017)

This research replicated and built on the 2005 choice modelling methodology. The study also aimed to understand how Victorians view and value their historic cultural heritage.

Valuing the priceless: the value of historic heritage in Australia (2005)

This research conducted a national survey of over 2000 Australians to gauge community attitudes to heritage places and their conservation. The research also used a market research technique – choice modelling – to understand the degree to which people are willing to financially support heritage protection.