I have been told I have to get a CHMP before I can get my Planning Permit, what is a CHMP?

CHMP stands for Cultural Heritage Management Plan, and is a document produced under the provisions of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 to manage Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Places located within a property (or Activity Area as it is defined by the Act). For further information, please visit the Aboriginal Affairs Victoria Cultural Heritage Management Plan information website here.

Why do I have to get a CHMP prepared for my project?

To require mandatory preparation of a CHMP, an activity would have to meet the two ‘triggers’ defined within the Act. Firstly, it would have to be what is classed as a High Impact Activity, and secondly it would have to be located within a defined area of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Sensitivity. The definitions of what constitutes both High Impact Activities and Areas of Cultural Heritage Sensitivity in Victoria are prescribed in the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007.

What is the process for preparing a CHMP?

After the project is registered with Aboriginal Victoria (AV), the first step is to do a background study (Desktop Assessment) for the project that looks at the history of the site, its environmental setting, and any Aboriginal Cultural Heritage places that might be located nearby. If it is deemed necessary, the CHMP will then move on to the field assessment of the site, which can be taken in two parts; firstly a walking survey (Standard Assessment) is carried out to see if there are any artefacts or features visible on the surface and to identify if there are any areas that have potential for these things to be buried – or to identify if there is no archaeological potential in the property. Following on from this, test excavations (Complex Assessment) are carried out to see if there is anything beneath the ground.

After the assessments have been conducted, the CHMP is written up with all appropriate mapping, GIS data and registration forms also completed, after which it is submitted for approval to either AV or a Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP), depending on where the project is located. The approval body then has a 30 day legislated period to assess the plan, by the end of which they would have approved the plan with no changes, identified minor changes that needed to be made and approved the plan as a result, or rejected the plan.

How long will it take to prepare a CHMP for my site?

This is a difficult question to answer accurately, as there are many variables that affect how long a project will take (including availability of Aboriginal community representatives, amount of field work required, etc.), however on smaller projects Pragmatic Cultural Heritage Services look to have the process completed within two to three months of commissioning, including the 30 days of assessment time allowed the approval body. Although this can vary based on our current workload and external factors that impact on the project, our track record has not seen a CHMP project run over three months since our inception.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a more specific assessment of timeframes for your project.

Will the Aboriginal community be involved? If so, will there be associated costs?

Yes. Under the provisions of the Act, the relevant local Aboriginal community groups must be involved in the CHMP process – in some cases as the approval body. If your Activity Area is located within the region of a Registered Aboriginal Party (or RAP), then they will be responsible for the assessment and ultimate approval or rejection of the plan, in addition to providing field representatives to be involved with the survey and excavation works. Conversely, if your Activity Area is located in one of the several areas within Victoria for which a RAP has not yet been determined, there will likely be other Aboriginal community groups (such as recognised traditional owners, RAP applicants, and Native Title Claimants) who may choose to be involved in the CHMP process.

Each Aboriginal Community group will charge for their time to be involved with the project, their fees and charges vary from group to group so the cost to you will also vary dependant on where your project is located and how many groups you need to invite to participate in fieldwork. Pragmatic Cultural Heritage Services will liaise directly with the Aboriginal Community on the clients behalf, but it is our policy to have the Aboriginal communities invoice clients directly for their time on projects. During the inception stage we look to provide guidance on what the likely costs for this will be based on current understanding of existing fee structures. Also, if a RAP is the approval body that will assess the CHMP once completed there is a fee which must be submitted with the plan; this is a standardised amount set by the State Government and varies based on the size of the project and level of assessment undertaken.

Once my plan is approved, will I have to do anything else with regards to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage?

That depends on the results of the CHMP investigations. If nothing has been found and there are no recommendations, then your development is free to go ahead. However, if an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Place has been identified and the CHMP requires additional works, such as salvage excavation, then this will need to be completed prior to your project commencing.

But my property is completely disturbed, all the topsoil was stripped off years ago – do I still have to do a CHMP?

If prior significant disturbance can be demonstrated effectively, it may not be necessary to prepare a mandatory CHMP for your Activity. However, you will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of Aboriginal Victoria  (AV) that significant disturbance has occurred in the past and that this has removed the possibility of Aboriginal cultural heritage material being located within your property. This will require the preparation of another level of documentation, specifically a Preliminary Aboriginal Heritage Test (PAHT), which will need to be certified by AV and provided to your council with your planning permit application; conversely, although a mandatory CHMP may not be required it is still possible to prepare a voluntary CHMP to ensure any potential Cultural Heritage Issues are managed before works commence.


I think there might have been a colonial period structure on my property, what can I do?

The best thing to do would be to engage a consultant to prepare an historical archaeological assessment for your property, which would involve a review of available documentary evidence on your site and a field survey to confirm your suspicion. If this does identify something on your property, the assessment will also advise you on how to proceed and manage the site into the future.

Part of my site is listed on the Victorian Heritage Inventory as an archaeological site and I have been told I need to get a consent before I commence works, what does that mean?

This means that you will need to apply to Heritage Victoria for a Heritage Consent to impact the site before conducting any works that may affect it, which will involve completion and submission of the appropriate documentation with payment of the appropriate fee (which varies based on the level of impact proposed). Any consent granted may include conditions, including the requirement for additional archaeological work that may need to be completed before works can proceed. For more information on the Heritage Inventory and the Heritage Consent Application process, please see Heritage Victoria’s Heritage Inventory information website here.

I have a Heritage Inventory listed site on my property that requires salvage excavation, what is the process and how long will it take?

Both of these questions are dependent on the many factors including the site type, the level of preservation present, and the methodology to be employed. To provide an accurate assessment of these please contact us to discuss the specifics of your project.


I’ve got a few quotes from different consultants, why are your costs so much lower?

Being a small operation, I do not have the expenses of the larger consultancies in Victoria, such as office space rental, administration, staff wages and field assistants, and as such can keep my prices low. Also, as I am primarily focussed on providing services to individuals and companies undertaking small and medium sized projects I understand that budgets can be tight, and that the costs of Cultural Heritage works can be quite high – to the point where they may be prohibitive for smaller projects. As such, I look to keep costs low so that they are not a significant burden on the smaller operator, but they still receive a product of the highest standard to progress with their project.

Does Pragmatic Cultural Heritage Services provide the same quality of work as a larger, more expensive operator?

Absolutely. All work conducted and documents produced are to a very high standard, based on years of experience working for the larger consultancies on a wide variety of projects. Ashley regularly attends relevant conferences, keeps abreast of changes in legislation, is a full member of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists, Inc (AACAI) and a member of both the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA) and Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA).

What kinds of projects does Pragmatic Cultural Heritage Services work on?

From residential subdivisions, through to council amenity programs and significant historical sites, our work and clients are varied.  Contact us to discuss the particular requirements of your project.

What is your turn-around time for completion of a project?

That will depend on the nature of the services you require, but typically a Due Diligence assessment can be produced in around one to two weeks, and a small scale CHMP within three months (including the 30 day assessment period) – but as each project is different, please contact us for a more accurate assessment of how long it will take to complete your project.

Pragmatic Cultural Heritage Services only works on small and medium scale projects to ensure that timelines are kept short and your project is always top priority.

“Very satisfied with the service, with competitive pricing”

                         – Client testimonial