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Protecting our heritage

Identifying and listing items of heritage significance are the first steps in protecting and managing those places and objects that we as a community want to keep.

Heritage protection in NSW

Identifying, nominating and listing significant places and objects helps us to protect and manage heritage in NSW for future generations. Collective referred to as ‘items’, heritage places and objects can include precincts, cemeteries, buildings, trains, works of art, and industrial objects and equipment.

Anyone can nominate a significant place or object for potential listing on the NSW State Heritage Register or declaration as an Aboriginal Place.

The State Heritage Register is a statutory list that provides legal protection for the conservation and management of state significant heritage items. The State Heritage Inventory includes statutory registers that govern heritage protection in NSW. It’s a combined list of protected heritage in NSW including:

  • Aboriginal Places
  • items listed on the State Heritage Register
  • places with Interim Heritage Orders applied to them
  • items listed on State Agency Heritage Registers and Local Environmental Plans.

Search the State Heritage Inventory to see items listed on the State Heritage Register and declared as Aboriginal Places. 

Types of heritage listings

There are many different lists or registers of natural, historic and Aboriginal heritage places throughout Australia. Our three levels of government work together to protect our heritage.

Commonwealth Government

  • Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage list is a list of sites that are of outstanding universal value.
  • Commonwealth Heritage List is a list of Indigenous, historic and natural heritage places owned or controlled by the Australian Government.
  • National Heritage List is Australia’s list of natural, historic and Indigenous places of outstanding significance to the nation.

NSW Government

  • The State Heritage Register is a list of places and objects of particular importance to the people of NSW.
  • Gazetted Aboriginal Places are areas or sites of importance to Aboriginal communities.
  • Aboriginal objects and places are on the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS)
  • Heritage NSW contributes NSW’s maritime heritage information to the Commonwealth Maritime Database.
  • NSW government agencies maintain separate registers of heritage items they own and manage.

Local Government

  • Heritage items that are important for the community in a local government area. They are listed on the council’s local environmental plan.

Assessing heritage significance

The Heritage Council of NSW assesses nominated heritage items for listing on the State Heritage Register and makes recommendations to the Minister for an item’s inclusion on the register. The Minister makes the final decision on whether the place is to be listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

Items proposed for listing on the State Heritage Register are assessed against the Heritage Council of NSW criteria  related to an item’s historic, aesthetic, scientific, and social values.

For listing to be considered, an item must generally meet more than one of the seven criteria. Items found to meet only one criteria must be of particular significance for listing to be considered.

Find out how to nominate an item or place for listing on the State Heritage Register or declaration as an Aboriginal Place.