A loss of memory means a loss of identity. History, personally and collectively, tells us where we came from, and who we are.
– David Gibson
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has a wealth of heritage relating to its historic past and role as Australia’s capital city, to natural spaces and ecosystems, and to Aboriginal culture and history.
The number of objects and places registered on the ACT Heritage Register and protected by provisions of the Heritage Act 2004 provides some indication of the state of our heritage. However, the condition of ACT heritage places and objects is not monitored, and thus assessments are incomplete.
The number of heritage listings has increased since the previous State of the Environment Report in 2011. The backlog of nominations awaiting assessment has decreased due to the removal of a large number of duplicated nominations after an audit undertaken in 2012–13, and the decision to not provisionally register places on National and Commonwealth land.
Land use and development are the most significant pressures on heritage in the ACT. Urban infill mainly affects historic heritage, while greenfield development mainly affects natural and Aboriginal heritage.
Although Aboriginal artefacts are preserved and moved when found on a development site, many Aboriginal people still see the heritage as lost, because the link between the artefact and place is gone. ACT Heritage in the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate is developing an Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment policy to address this.
The ACT Government has a number of structures and policies in place to protect our heritage. The main management bodies are ACT Heritage and the ACT Heritage Council, and the Heritage Advisory Service. In addition, the Government develops infrastructure and events to support community understanding and appreciation of ACT heritage, such as signage and Heritage Grants for conservation management.