Australian Heritage Quality Framework


Australia ICOMOS has recently prepared the AHQF_Discussion Paper No 1_Relationship between AHQF and Heritage Skills Development_April 2017.



Australia ICOMOS is collaborating with the APT Australasia Chapter to progress an Australian Heritage Quality Framework (AHQF), which will sit under The Burra Charter: the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance, 2013.

Some of the drivers for the AHQF that are supported by Australia ICOMOS are:

–        That while many resources are given to the planning and guidance for heritage projects, there is little monitoring to ensure best practice (ie. sustainable) outcomes for such projects.

–        There is an increasing lack of skilled people who can carry out heritage projects in accordance with best practice. There is unlikely to be demand for training in such best practice if there is no process for demanding high quality outcomes.

The concept of an AHQF is supported in the 2015 National Heritage Strategy (NHS). The Strategy defines a Heritage Quality Framework as:

  A series of Heritage Quality Measures for various conservation activities, but in particular for the conservation of significant heritage fabric. Provides for consistent heritage management; more certainty for owners and applicants when applying to carry out works at heritage places; assist in the streamlining of heritage applications; and provide a quality management vehicle for exempting certain works from the statutory approval process.

Objective 6 of the NHS is particularly relevant:


Objective 6: Further develop heritage partnerships between government and other sectors.

Proposed action: Explore the development and implementation of a heritage quality framework to provide more consistent heritage management guidance to the Australian building industry.

Lead: Australia ICOMOS and HCOANZ. Partners: Department of Environment and Building Industry.

The NSW Heritage Council, at its meeting of October 2013, resolved to support “Towards a Quality Framework for heritage Conservation”. The minutes read:

  …The proposed framework would provide support to the application of the Burra Charter and be industry focussed. It is proposed to develop a quality framework to provide support and guidance to heritage tradespeople, owners of heritage properties, other stakeholders involved in on-site conservation work and to understand the standards to be met.



By mandating quality outcomes in all Government funded and Government approved works to heritage-listed places involving permits and consent processes it is highly likely that the quality and sustainability of heritage conservation actions would be raised. Quality would be achieved by the adoption of measurable standards and the rigorous application of quality measures.

Standards and quality measures for common conservation activities would define outcomes and lead to improvements by:

  • making tendering and pricing processes genuinely competitive
  • improving competency
  • driving training of new practitioners
  • providing career pathways for heritage practitioners in the trades
  • protecting heritage values
  • improving quality and sustainability of outcomes

The Australian Heritage Strategy provides the incentive for a heritage quality framework. It states:

  • A strategy is needed to unite the efforts of Australian governments and communities in continuing to celebrate, commemorate and protect the heritage assets that are important to us in a manner which is consistent and forward looking. A strategy also assists in articulating the distinct roles of Australia’s governments and community and business partners in valuing, protecting and managing our heritage.’ [1]
[1] Australian Heritage Strategy 2015, p.12





Australia ICOMOS and the APT Australasian Chapter are now developing a Project Plan which will include a program to achieve the AHQF and a brief for a Project Officer to implement the Plan. Further resourcing and/or funding for the project will then be sought through the appropriate government heritage agencies.

Please send any comments on this information to Mary Knaggs by email.