Public resources are administrated through public authorities that are established by acts of parliament to control the allocation of resources on behalf of the public. Much of the administration of public resources involves the handling of public funds for a specific purpose such as health and education. It also extends to the concerns of welfare issues such as social equity and quality of life. Public parks, recreation facilities and heritage are often administrated and managed through public authorities. The public provision of such resources is a recent phenomena which has been legislated to meet the expressed desires of the public.
This dissertation outlines the legislative process which provides for public management of heritage resources, as well as the administrative responsibilities of the authorities which govern this process, commonly referred to as cultural resource management (CRM). More specifically it examines the processes which are carried out by CRM to determine the value of heritage resources and consequently its the future management.
The CRM process is responsible for the allocation and distribution of heritage resources through identification and value assessment process. Ultimately, this leads to the appropriate application of protection and management strategies for the benefit of the community. The assessment criteria employed by the CRM process to identify important heritage resources is governed by the outcomes of the Burra Charter, 1981. This Charter involved professionals within the realm of heritage related fields to produce a means of assessing the non-market values associated with heritage according to the legislative definitions. Having been widely implemented in Australia, the Charter has recently come under increasing criticism due to its failure to adequately represent the diversity of the community's perception of heritage. This is largely due to the subjective nature of the criteria of the Burra Charter.
The research presented within this dissertation examines the usefulness of the professional assessment task through a case study of Culcairn shire which systematically surveyed for community perceptions of heritage and heritage value. The results of this research were compared with the outcomes of a professional heritage assessment to determine whether discrepancies exist. Some fundamental inconsistencies were detected in the types of resources perceived as heritage. Further research needs to be undertaken to determine if the outcome reflects a fundamental flaw in cultural heritage management policies.
The results were further validated by the application of the contingent valuation method (CVM) which attempted to find the optimal level of provision for specific heritage resources within the Culcairn shire. The CVM provides a comparative measure of the non-market value for public goods which cannot be valued by private economic markets. This valuation task can also be used to determine the direction of heritage management by measuring the net economic benefits of an increases to resource provision according to the preferences indicated by public opinion.
The heritage profession has a responsibility to ensure that heritage is available to everyone in the community and that all communities absorb both the negative and positive consequences of heritage protection. The CVM is the only method which can objectively measure non-market values and thus should be considered as an option for a more accurate assessments of value by the CRM process.