Melbourne’s history and unique heritage places are a key feature of our identity and distinctiveness.

The City of Melbourne’s current Heritage Strategy 2013 provided a sound framework to protect and enhance Melbourne’s heritage places. Much has changed since 2013: our city now faces unprecedented pressure for growth and change alongside economic and social challenges and a rapidly escalating climate crisis. The way we understand and celebrate heritage may need to evolve in our changing city.

We have prepared a Discussion Paper to start a conversation about how we shape our new Heritage Strategy. The ideas and topics in this paper are not an outline of an adopted approach. We wanted to explore and test them with the diverse voices of the community, business and government.

From 20 February to 19 March 2024 we consulted with the community on our Discussion Paper to learn more about how we can better understand, communicate and interpret people’s heritage values.

Feedback will be analysed and used to inform our new Draft Heritage Strategy.

Explore the Focus Areas

The Discussion Paper explores how a people-centred heritage framework could be implemented through 5 Focus Areas.

A people-centred approach involves including people’s relationship with a place as a key part of its significance. It places the way people value places at the heart of heritage conservation. These social and spiritual values are as important as values directly related to the physical fabric.

People-centred heritage aims to empower the community to help shape cultural heritage.

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Aboriginal heritage, culture and knowledge are central to Melbourne’s identity. Truth-telling about our heritage is vital as we strive for reconciliation. Focus area 1 will enable us to consider developing a framework to inform how Aboriginal history and perspectives should be reflected across the entire Strategy.

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Focus Area 2 explores how heritage interpretation can strengthen the relationship between people and heritage places by sharing the stories and connections that a place holds with those who live or work in, or visit the city. Interpretation can help to reveal and celebrate the different layers of history associated with a place. Sometimes this can include contested or difficult histories that should not be forgotten.

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Melbourne is a vibrant, multicultural, global city, and its historic precincts, streetscapes and buildings, public spaces, parks and gardens are some of its strongest assets. Focus Area 3 discusses accommodating growth and change while ensuring that Melbourne’s distinctive heritage places remain a prominent feature of its evolution and ongoing economic prosperity.

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A people-centred approach recognises the critical importance of climate change and its impact on perceptions of heritage places. Focus Area 4 considers how we can ensure heritage places, including landscapes, are sustainable, efficient and resilient in the future.

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There are many ways that heritage (including unlisted heritage) and its contribution to local character, place and distinctiveness, amenity, and community values can be acknowledged and celebrated. Focus Area 5 considers how there could be greater recognition for broader social values and celebration of more diverse historical themes and periods.

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