RHSV Heritage Committee

Advocating for Heritage

We cooperate with cognate organisations in response to heritage issues raised by affiliated historical societies.

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What is the RHSV Heritage Committee?

 The RHSV Heritage Committee speaks for the RHSV on heritage matters and cooperates with related organisations in response to heritage issues raised by affiliated historical societies.

The committee is chaired by RHSV Councillor Emeritus Professor Charles Sowerwine. Currently it consists of RHSV Councillors Elisabeth Jackson and Judith Smart, plus Ian Wight, Peter Hiscock and Lucy Bracey. Felicity Watson, Advocacy Manager for the National Trust, is a member ex officio.

What do we do?

 Since 1909, the RHSV has advocated for, protected and promoted Victoria’s history and heritage. The Heritage Committee was formed in 2016 as a working party, when the RHSV was asked to respond to the state government’s review of the Heritage Act 1995. Since we had already begun fielding requests from local historical societies seeking help in preservation struggles, the Heritage Committee was made a permanent committee to continue this work.

The Committee seeks to conserve heritage throughout Victoria. We work with local historical societies. Where appropriate, we cooperate with the National Trust and other heritage bodies. We seek to respond to major threats to heritage, making submissions to Heritage Victoria and to the Minister for Planning as well as to local councils and to VCAT, especially when we can add weight to the voices of local historical societies. We have been active in fighting to preserve the Queen Victoria Market, Fed Square and the surrounds of the Royal Exhibition Building World Heritage Site, but we have also been involved in campaigns to protect the historic Queens Parade shopping strip in North Fitzroy, heritage-listed buildings threatened by the St Vincent’s Private Hospital development, the grand mansion North Park in Essendon, and the natural beauty of Mount Buninyong near Ballarat.

Over the years the RHSV Heritage Committee has developed a reputation within heritage and planning circles as a group that produces effective submissions backed by extensive research and heritage knowledge. Our voice is heard and respected.

The RHSV Heritage Committee is also involved in reviewing the society’s policy and strategy concerning statues and monuments that no longer represent a diverse and inclusive Australian history. For more, see here.

How can I help?

 Every citizen who notes a threat to our heritage can help by writing or submitting to the authority making the decision. We can help put you on the right track.

Members of local historical societies are in a particularly good position to note threats and to act in a timely fashion. Again, we can help with suggestions and, to the extent possible, joining or supporting local protests.

We ask historical societies to alert us as you become aware of threats to our heritage. We will do what we can to help, and we will build up a record of threats and actions taken.

We welcome new members of the committee. If you have a passion for history and heritage, please get in touch!

Contact: admin.officer@historyvictoria.org.au, Please mark subject “Attn Charles Sowerwine.”

There is no provision for support to local councils

There is no provision for support to local councils, which bear the brunt of preservation for many fine buildings not of state significance but nevertheless of great value to local communities or of great importance in maintaining the historic aura and charm of a country town. As a result, many buildings fall between the cracks and are lost.


The RHSV Heritage Committee may be able to assist. Please use the form below to get in touch.

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RHSV Image: Federal Coffee Palace, corner Collins and King Streets, Melbourne [demolished 1973-1974]

Our committee

Charles Sowerwine, FAHA, is a member of the RHSV Council. He has chaired the Heritage Committee since 2016. He has a longstanding interest in Melbourne history and heritage. He has been a member of the National Trust since 1973 and was involved in the first heritage study of Fitzroy in 1979. Recently, he collaborated in the development of the National Trust’s Advocacy Toolkit. For the RHSV’s Melbourne’s Twenty Decades (2019), he wrote ‘2010s Transforming City’ and ‘2020s Challenged City’.

Lucy Bracey is a professional historian with Way Back When Consulting Historians. She is a former member of the RHSV Council, current treasurer and Vic. & Tas. representative for Professional Historians Australia and serves on the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute Collections Committee. Lucy has a passion for history and storytelling, and loves helping different communities and groups tell their story.

Peter Hiscock AM, is a regional member of the RHSV and president of the Buninyong and District Historical Society. He spent 12 years on the Heritage Council and chaired its Finance Committee. He served three terms on the Board of Museums Victoria.

Elisabeth Jackson, FRHSV, is vice president of the RHSV and chair of the society’s Collections Committee. She has a long standing interest in the heritage of Victoria and Melbourne in particular. Elisabeth has collaborated with other RHSV volunteers on two books Remembering Melbourne (2016 and 2017) and Melbourne’s Twenty Decades (2019), which showcased the RHSV’s collection of images of Melbourne buildings and landscapes.

Judith Smart AM, FRHSV, is a member of the RHSV Council and also serves on the society’s Heritage and Publications Committees. She co-edits the Victorian Historical Journal and also co-edited and contributed to the RHSV publications, Remembering Melbourne 1850–1960 (2016 and 2017) and Melbourne’s Twenty Decades (2019), both of which celebrate Melbourne’s heritage.

Ian Wight, M.ICOMOS. Arriving in Australia in 1974 Ian joined an innovative planning practice where he worked primarily in natural and recreational area management. He joined the National Trust in 1990 as conservation manager where he advocated for both natural and built heritage, moving to Heritage Victoria combined with private practice in 2008. He retired from HV in 2018 but continues to work in the interests of heritage as a member of the City of Yarra’s Heritage Advisory Committee and the National Trust’s Built Environment Committee.

Felicity Watson, M.ICOMOS, a member ex officio, is the executive manager, Advocacy, at the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). She has nearly 20 years of experience in cultural heritage management and advocacy. She coordinated the development of the National Trust’s Advocacy Toolkit to empower Victorian communities, and led the National Trust’s successful campaign, in collaboration with Citizens for Melbourne, the RHSV and other community groups, to nominate Federation Square to the Victorian Heritage Register.

Jeff Atkinson, is President of the Carlton Community History Group, a member organisation of the RHSV, and since 2018 has been a member of the City of Yarra’s Heritage Advisory Committee. He is a published author of several books on aspects of the history of Carlton and Melbourne, and leads history walks around Carlton. He has had a long-term interest in generating and sustaining public interest in local history and heritage protection


Current Advocacy Projects


Archived Advocacy Projects