Australian Aid: Friendship Grants

Three men standing in a field
Every year across Australia, thousands of people donate their time and money to help people in developing countries. Australian Aid: Friendship Grants will bring local Australian community organisations into the Australian aid program by providing funding for them to expand or enhance their international development activities in our region. Photo: Darren James.

Australian Aid: Friendship Grants is a three-year small grants program which will engage a diverse group of Australian community organisations in the delivery of Australia's aid program.

Australian Aid: Friendship Grants will bring more local Australian community organisations into the Australian aid program by providing funding for them to expand or enhance their existing overseas aid activities, including through new projects.

Eligible Australian community organisations are encouraged to apply for funding of between $30,000 and $60,000 in three annual grant rounds.

Round 1 will commence in June 2018 with the first grants awarded from November 2018.

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If you experience any problems with this service please email FriendshipGrants@dfat.gov.au or call the DFAT head office in Canberra on +61 2 6261 1111.


Announced in the 2018-19 Budget, the $10 million, three-year Australian Aid: Friendship Grants program will bring more Australian community organisations into Australia's aid program. The program will support organisations from across Australia who have existing relationships and international development activities that are contributing to Australia's development goals.

Many Australian organisations, including charities, local government groups, professional organisations, diaspora groups and volunteer groups are already working hard to help communities in our region. These organisations have unique, on-the-ground experience in international development and have forged strong relationships with local communities overseas. Australian Aid: Friendship Grants aims to bring the international development experience of these Australian community organisations into the Australian aid program by supporting the best of these activities and projects.

Australian Aid: Friendship Grants overview

Selection process

Grants will be awarded through a merit-based selection process in-line with Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines. Applications are encouraged from a wide range of Australian community organisations that reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of Australia.

Location of activities funded

Australian community organisations can apply for funding for activities undertaken in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) eligible countries in the Indo-Pacific region as outlined below.

DFAT will not fund any activities in locations listed as "do not travel" or "reconsider your need to travel" on Smartraveller.

Organisations eligible to apply for a grant include:

Australian community organisations who are not currently accredited with DFAT and have:

  • A proven record in implementing international development activities in ODA-eligible countries in the Indo-Pacific region (as outlined above); and
  • A letter of support from an in-country authority as well as existing relationships with in-country partner communities that assist in the implementation of activities on the ground.

These include:

Organisations not eligible to apply for a grant include:

  • For-profit organisations;
  • State or Territory Governments;
  • Organisations who are currently accredited with DFAT (including Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) partners);
  • Individuals; and/or
  • Community organisations not registered in Australia.

Activities eligible for funding include:

  • Development program activities which build on existing projects to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people in a way that is sustainable;
  • Development activities which use successful and/or innovative approaches to problem solving that have potential for wider application; and
  • Development activities that assist and strengthen an overseas community's capacity or socio‑economic situation such as:
    • Income generation – including microfinance, microenterprise or small business development;
    • Basic education and training – including literacy, primary, and vocational training;
    • Gender equality – including women's economic empowerment and leadership, and ending violence against women and girls;
    • Healthcare – including primary healthcare;
    • Water supply and sanitation – including providing access to safe water and maintaining or improving water quality;
    • Protection and promotion of human rights – including improving economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of people with a disability, and addressing indigenous disadvantage;
    • Rural development – including the development of agriculture and basic services;
    • Sustainable environmental and natural resource management;
    • Preparedness for, and long-term recovery from, natural disasters; and
    • Climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Australian Aid: Friendship Grants activities should align with the Australian aid program's overarching goals and priorities (such as gender equality and disability inclusion).

Activities not eligible for funding include:

  • Research, conferences, seminars, training events and/or exchanges to Australia or partner country;
  • Costs associated with participants attending events;
  • Overseas transportation of goods and supplies (freight);
  • Major capital expenditure (construction, purchase of buildings or land) unless part of a wider activity to support the community;
  • Activities deemed as high-risk or in high-risk locations (including all locations listed as "do not travel" or "reconsider your need to travel" on Smartraveller);
  • Activities that are determined to be contrary to the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia;
  • Activities that involve unskilled volunteers supporting orphanages or residential care institutions; or
  • Evangelism or missionary outreach, or similar activities by political organisations.

Grant size, number of applications and duration

Applicants can apply for grant of $30,000 to $60,000. Australian community organisations can only submit one application per round. Grants will be expended within 12 months.

Matched funding

As part of the application process, Australian community organisations will be required to match funding at a minimum ratio of $1 Australian community organisation funds to $5 Australian Aid: Friendship Grants funds. This can be either financial or in-kind, including volunteer hours.

Risk mitigation and due diligence

Australian community organisations must meet DFAT's safeguards and due diligence requirements to participate in program. 

Email FriendshipGrants@dfat.gov.au for more information.