What is Heritage?

For the National Trust, the term ‘heritage’ covers all that we, as a society, value today and wish to pass on to future generations.This is a very broad definition of ‘heritage’, and deliberately so. Its scope is much broader than ‘place’. It includes intangible as well as tangible heritage—language and customs, as well as places and moveable collections.

‘Heritage places’ for the ACNT covers places that have historic, Indigenous and natural values, their associated collections (including documentary collections), and the settings in which places are located.

This broad holistic understanding of heritage sits within the agreed international framework governed by UNESCO , and accords with the key Australian document, the Burra Charter, developed by Australian heritage practitioners to provide a framework for the assessment of the significance of heritage places and the traditions associated with them.

It also accords with the definition of heritage values as defined in the EPBC Act, where:

the heritage value of a place includes the place’s natural and cultural environment having aesthetic, historic,scientific or social significance, or other significance, for current and future generations of Australians.

The ACNT respects and acknowledges the right of Indigenous people to identify and conserve their own heritage. The ACNT Aboriginal and Torres Straights Islander Heritage Policy (2002) acknowledges the special relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with country and sea, and lays out principles governing the Trust approach to supporting Indigenous people in the identification and conservation of their cultural heritage.

The ACNT regards ‘heritage’ holistically. We do not draw rigid boundaries between a place and its setting, or between a place and its associated moveable collections, nor do we rank one set of values—natural, Indigenous, historic—over another.
While the ACNT agrees with the broad scope of the definition of ‘historic heritage places’ as described in the Issues Paper, when the term ‘heritage’ is used in this submission, it refers to intangible as well as tangible heritage values.

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