Direct Aid Program General Guidelines


The day-to-day administration of the Direct Aid Program (DAP) is the responsibility of Australia's overseas missions (posts). The program coordination function is located within the Public Diplomacy, Communications and Scholarships Division of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Each post with responsibility for DAP is given an allocation for the financial year (July to June).

At each post a DAP Committee is formed to consider applications and to agree on the post's strategic DAP plan. The Committee would normally be chaired by a DFAT officer at the post, and may include other Australia-based staff at the post, locally engaged staff, or members of the local community. The Committee makes recommendations to the Head of Mission (Ambassador/High Commissioner), who makes the final decision on funding.

Generally, post DAP committees will consider projects identified by local community associations but may also consider projects identified by individuals, the private sector, NGOs or local government authorities (for example, for local government school and hospital projects), depending on the nature of the project.

There are a range of approaches for sourcing applications, according to local circumstances. Some posts may conduct annual application rounds, while other posts may respond to requests on a case-by-case basis. On occasion, posts may invite particular communities to identify a project.

Eligibility for funding

In selecting projects to fund, post DAP Committees will ensure that projects have developmental outcomes, and are consistent with the foreign and trade policy, and public diplomacy objectives of the post. All projects funded by DAP must qualify as Official Development Assistance (ODA) as defined by the OECD comprehensive guidance, including the Is it ODA? factsheet available on the OECD website.

Attention will be given to projects providing direct benefits to those most in need in the local community, including vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, women, children and youth. Projects should address gender issues in their implementation.

DAP projects should be aimed primarily at achieving practical and tangible outcomes, such as on poverty alleviation, community health; schools/education; small-scale infrastructure; rural development; gender equality, environmental benefits including managing or adapting to climate change and ad hoc humanitarian relief.

The focus should be on activities that have a direct impact and may include capacity building projects, particularly in the areas of governance and human rights engagement.

Projects that support people with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives through accessing the same opportunities for participation, contribution, decision-making, and social and economic well-being as others are strongly encouraged.

As a general rule, the following projects are not funded:

  • payment of ongoing staff salaries of core organisational staff. Note: contractor salaries that are part of the actual project can be considered but should not constitute a major cost component
  • grants programs run by other governments or organisations
  • micro-credit schemes or any other project that involves return of money or loans for cash
  • administrative costs not directly related to project implementation
  • purchase of vehicles. purchase or rental of property or land
  • routine, recurring and/or running costs including: office rent, electricity, water, phone, internet, etc.; routine maintenance and repairs (including of equipment such as photocopiers, computers, stoves, fridges etc.) and office or equipment insurance; or
  • commercial ventures.

Consideration may at times be given to small-scale community activities that have prospects of eventually generating commercial benefits where the community can demonstrate to the satisfaction of post that proceeds from the activity will be reinvested in the project.

Project proposals

Applications are considered at Australia's overseas posts. Prospective applicants should contact the relevant Australian Embassy or High Commission for details of the application process for the country in which the project is to be undertaken.

Proposals must be clearly defined with specific outputs. Where the proposed activity has been submitted to other possible funding sources, or is being implemented in conjunction with activities funded through other sources, this must be clearly stated in the application.

Selection process

Assessments of applications by post DAP Committees are made primarily on the basis of the supporting information supplied by applicants. Prospective applicants should contact the relevant Australian Embassy or High Commission for their application forms and procedures.

Activities must be consistent with the post’s foreign and trade policy and public diplomacy objectives for the country. In addition, consideration is given to the following issues:

  • applications should clearly detail the expected developmental impact of the project, for example in terms of promoting community development, education, health, gender equality, disadvantaged groups, and environmental sustainability
  • DAP projects must be sustainable, oriented towards self-help and should not rely on future DAP grants. Submissions should demonstrate a commitment on the part of the local community to implement the activities and sustain them
  • appropriate institutional support arrangements must be described, for example, the level of recurrent costs generated and evidence of capacity to sustain these costs in the longer term
  • details of the extent to which the DAP activity might act as a catalyst for further development of the target community or a model for similar projects elsewhere
  • preference is given to innovative and creative projects, particularly those using low technology solutions.

Posts will advise applicants in writing of the project approvals and of the conditions relating to the grant as soon as possible after the completion of a selection round. If recipients are unable to commence and/or complete projects in the agreed timeframe, they should not proceed with the application. If the agreed terms and conditions of DAP funding are not met, recipients may be required to repay the grant to the post.

Conflict of interest

To maintain the integrity of the program, post DAP Committee members have certain obligations in relation to their individual conduct. DAP Committee members are required to report any potential conflict of interest affecting their participation and remove themselves from involvement in any assessment of that particular project.

Assessment considerations

When assessing projects, post DAP Committees will consider:

  • Whether the recipient can deliver the project
  • What Work Health & Safety risks might be inherent in the project(see below for further detail)
  • What fraud and corruption risks might be associated with the project
  • Whether the project involves children and if so, does the applicant have procedures in place to protect them
  • Whether the applicant can meet sanctions and counter terrorism requirements
  • Whether the project involves any risks to the environment and the applicant’s ability to manage these.

A key test for the DAP Committee and Head of Mission when approving projects is whether the proposed expenditure is an appropriate use of Australian Government funds and conforms with the DAP guidelines. Each post has in place an appropriate and transparent accountability process and must be able to justify its selection process when reporting on its annual DAP allocation expenditure.

Applicants are required to demonstrate their bona fides at the outset through referrals or references and detailed proposals. When providing funds to successful applicants, post DAP Committees will issue a letter of acceptance, which outlines the responsibilities of the applicants including due diligence assurances. The letter of acceptance will also outline successful applicants' obligations on  providing progress reports, acquittals and  returning funds if the project does not go ahead. The acceptance letter will also include a paragraph outlining counter-terrorism laws and policies, fraud and anti-corruption obligations and where relevant, reference to child protection policies in line with post's risk management strategy. The DAP Committee may also consider making payments in several tranches.

Acquittal reports

The Acquittal Report is the major vehicle posts have for ensuring that recipients comply with accountability and evaluation requirements. All recipients of DAP funds are required to submit an acquittal report within two months of completion of the project that provides an accurate assessment of the actual outcomes and outputs of the activities (compared with the anticipated outcomes stated in the application), as well as evidence of expenditure, such as receipts. For projects over six months, a progress report (interim acquittal) should be provided every six months which gives a brief overview of progress achieved against identified milestones. Posts will provide recipients with details of the requirements for financial accountability and acquittals.

Posts will endeavour to ascertain whether the project has been completed as proposed. A report will be kept with other project papers at the post. A ‘best endeavours’ approach recognises that site visits are neither practical nor cost-effective in many circumstances. In such cases, posts are asked to seek feedback from regional governments, local councils, NGOs, Australian volunteers, business people or local cooperatives to vouch that a project has been completed.

Badging and promotion of projects

Where practical and cost effective, posts will seek to arrange with project recipients some form of permanent reminder of the role the posts have played in funding a project. Limited DAP funds may be used to fund such badging activities. The Australian Aid identifier must be used to badge DAP projects.

Work Health and Safety (WHS)

As part of the project risk assessment process, post DAP Committees will consider what WHS risks might be inherent in the project. Posts may request an organisation to present information on their risk mitigation strategies to assist with the assessment of the safety culture and WHS capability of the organisation. Posts will encourage in principle high safety standards in all DAP projects.

In assessing building and construction projects, post DAP Committees should consider whether the work would meetthe highest standard that is reasonably practicable. Post DAP Committees should assess the effectiveness of the applicant organisation in its management of safe work practices and application of environmental and building code standards. Consistent with advice from the Australian Asbestos Industry Association, asbestos is not considered a safe material to use in building and construction. DAP should not fund the use of asbestos as a building material.

Last Updated: 16 December 2016