Application guidelines

How to Apply

Step 1 - Our Funding Priorities

The Australia-China Council’s grant-making priorities for the 2014-2018 period are centered on three areas – Education, Economic Diplomacy and Arts and Culture and underpinned by the three cross-cutting themes - Mobility, Capabilities and New Areas of Engagement.

Priority Areas

1. Education

Support practical and effective solutions to enhance China literacy, business and cultural capabilities of Australian institutions and people to effectively engage with China and promote education and knowledge connectivity between Australia and China.

2. Economic Diplomacy

Promote diversity, growth and innovation of Australia's trade and investment relationship with China.

3. Arts and Culture

Showcase Australian arts, creative industries and sport engagement to Chinese audiences, and Chinese arts, creative industries and sports engagement to Australian audiences, and build closer and broader cultural, artistic and sporting partnerships.

Cross-cutting themes

The Council’s grant-making and program activities in the above-mentioned areas will focus on the following three cross-cutting themes:

1. Mobility

Encouraging greater and more diverse professional mobility between Australia and China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, including through support of the New Colombo Plan.

2. Capabilities

Building capabilities of organisations and individuals to enter into partnerships and work effectively with their Chinese counterparts; investing in information resources (including new digital and mobile platforms) that inform Australian communities and relevant sectors about opportunities, practices and risks in engaging with China.

3. New Areas of Engagement

Identifying and seeking practical solutions to develop new areas of engagement between the two countries.

Step 2 - Application Process

In the 2016-17 round, we will have only one round (in previous years there has been an expression of interest and complete application phase).  The form has been streamlined and the format is different than forms used in previous years.  All applications must be received in Smartygrants by 4 April 2016.  The ACC Secretariat will not accept late applications.  You will receive acknowledgement that your application has been submitted by an automatically generated email.  Please contact us if you have problems submitting the application online at or on (02) 6261 3818 or (02) 6261 9669 before the closing date.

All applicants will be advised in writing of the outcome of their application. Successful applicants must complete a Funding Agreement before the ACC Secretariat can issue an invoice.

Funding Scope

Total funding for the ACC grants program is subject to the availability of funds in 2016-17 financial year.

Funding is capped at $40,000 per application. The level of funding for an individual application may only be increased in exceptional circumstances. If requesting more than $40,000, applicants will need to demonstrate significant potential of the project to make a long-term positive impact on the bilateral relationship within the funding priorities of the Council. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider project costs and note the assessment committee is unlikely to recommend many projects be funded over $40,000 limit.

ACC grants are intended to provide modest funding to encourage partnerships with other areas of government, corporate sponsors and private donors, and applicants will normally be expected to demonstrate that they are seeking assistance from other sources.

Step 3 - Eligibility requirements


  • Individuals and organisations may apply for grants.
  • Individual applicants must be Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. Proof of citizenship or residency may be required.
  • The applicant should demonstrate an established record of achievement in the development and management of projects relevant to their proposed area of endeavour, and should provide evidence of this.
  • Joint applications may be accepted from non-Australian individuals or organisations who are working in partnership with Australian individuals, groups or organisations. Australian individuals or organisation should be the main applicant.
  • No person or organisation can hold more than one Australia-China Council grant at any given time without the prior approval of the Council.
  • Grants may not be provided to organisations or individuals that have failed to provide a proper acquittal of an earlier grant provided by the Australia-China Council, or any other Foundation, Council or Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Each applicants can only submit one application per round, excluding applications re-submitted with additional information at the Council’s request, however we will accept multiple applications (maximum 3 per organisation) from different areas/business units of large organisations (such as universities).
  • As a government organisation, the Australia-China Council is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and encourages individuals and organisations from target groups to apply for grants under this scheme.

Activities not eligible for funding

  • Activities that are commercially viable in their own right or which give a commercial advantage to one organisation.
  • Capital expenditure, equipment or computer software
  • Research that is more appropriately funded by universities, the Australian Research Council or other institutions
  • Conference/meeting travel, unless the subject of the conference is of direct relevance to the Australia-China relationship and the applicant is a leader in the field. Applicants must also demonstrate that a substantial program will be arranged before and/or after the conference.
  • Funding support to grant-giving organisations for activities mainly involving their own personnel and/or other costs.
  • Activities that are properly the responsibility of other funding bodies or other government agencies, for example:
    • Development assistance projects;
    • Activities under bilateral science and technology agreements; and
    • Trade promotion activities normally handled by Austrade or industry promotion bodies
  • Activities that are properly the responsibility of the host institution e.g., post graduate students applying for travel assistance to do field work as part of their thesis will not normally be considered.
  • Any project in which the Australia-China component is marginal and incidental to the main aims of the project.
  • Study tours or activities undertaken by schools where travel by a significant number of students is the principal element of the proposal.
  • Employment of research assistants, administrative staff etc., or the payment of administrative charges levied by the applicant's organisation.
  • Funding of completed projects, or recurrent funding of projects.
  • Salaries and honorariums.

Step 4 - Examples of Projects

Visit meet our grantees for a list of grant recipients in 2015-16. Our Facebook page also provides regular examples of ACC supported projects.

Step 5 - Application Guidelines

How to complete the online Expression of Interest or online Application Form

In order to give your online application the best chance possible, please be aware of the following:

  • The applicant should be the owner of the bank account into which the grant (if successful) will be paid. This person or entity will be required to enter into a funding (grant) agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia (represented by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), and legally responsible for the proper acquittal of any funds awarded. Persons signing application and funding acceptance forms must be duly authorised to do so.
  • The start date for the project should take into account project preparation time.
  • Normally the Council does not pay a grant to a successful recipient until four to eight weeks prior to the project's start date. However, you may be required to pay project expenses before this. In either case, advice of the date you estimate you will need ACC funds will help the Council plan its grant payments. For example, you would use the date airline tickets must be paid for, not the departure date or the booking date.
  • The amount applied for should be exclusive of GST. If you are registered for GST, the ACC will add that amount to your grant.
  • Remember that the ACC may have little or no knowledge of what you do. As decisions are based on information provided, ensure that your forms are clear, comprehensive and concise.
  • We must receive the on-line application form by the closing date/time.
  • Provide the most detailed and accurate budget possible for the complete application. the activities will be the only activities for which you can use the grant.
  • Unspent grant funds must be returned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when your project has been completed.
  • Council funding of international air fares is at the applicable economy excursion rate. Applications for funding of business class airfares will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Council will not reimburse applicants for additional expenses incurred because of late bookings or other problems requiring tickets to be paid at a higher rate.
  • Applicants should note that misleading the Australian Government on financial matters may have serious consequences. Under section 136.1 of the Criminal Code (Commonwealth), it is an offence to provide false or misleading information to an Australian Government body in an application for a benefit, punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment.
  • Referees should be independent of the project and be able to comment on your ability to undertake the project, in addition to commenting on merits of the project itself.
  • The ACC will not accept un-signed referees' reports, or late references.
  • Please note that CVs are strictly limited to one page.
  • All documentation must be in English or accompanied by a translation.

Assessment Process and Criteria


Applications will be considered by the ACC Board assessment committees which will competitively assesses applications against the selection criteria using a numerical rating system.

Decisions are made primarily on the basis of the information supplied in the Application, budget and accompanying supporting documentations. The assessment committee will seek additional input from relevant DFAT overseas missions to assist in the consideration of applications. The assessment committee may also take into account information from other sources that it considers appropriate, such as:

  • advice from ACC board members;
  • communication with other areas of government, including federal, state and territory agencies; and
  • previous DFAT grant acquittals (including any overdue or unsatisfactory acquittals).

While an application may meet the selection criteria, a grant is not guaranteed. Successful applications may not be funded to the full amount requested.

Conflict of interest

Assessment committee members and ACC Grants Program staff must disclose any actual or perceived conflict of interest in any matter to be considered in which they are formally involved. Depending on the nature and extent of the conflict, they may be required not to take part in any discussion or decision-making process involving the conflict. Such disclosures will be formally recorded.

DFAT employees are required to comply with the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1999 and the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct. DFAT's Conduct and Ethics Manual ensures that any conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived, do not influence decision-making. The manual is available online at

Role of DFAT staff

The role of ACC Grants Program staff is to:

  • provide information and advice to the assessment committee to assist its determination of policy and its assessment of grant applications
  • provide information to potential applicants for grants
  • administer and monitor the program to enable a flexible, fair and efficient assessment process in the interest of both the decision-makers and applicants.

ACC Grants Program staff do not make decisions on funding applications.

Assessment Criteria

All applications are assessed against the Council's strategic objectives - funding priorities, cross-cutting themes and the following 5 key assessment criterions. Applications for grants must therefore follow these guidelines before being submitted for consideration:

1. Relevance

  • The project should be relevant to the Council's goals (as indicated in the Strategic Plan 2014-2018 and Funding Priorities section above).
  • The Project’s objectives should be clearly defined and consistent with the Council’s goals and national goals for the broader and deeper engagement with China.

2. Excellence and Quality

  • Applicants should have an established record of achievement in their proposed field of endeavour.
  • The applicant should have a demonstrated ability to deliver the project successfully.

3. Sustainability and Continuity

  • The project should establish prospects for future independent activity as a result of initial Council funding.
  • Preference will be given to projects which are able to demonstrate that they have obtained part of their funding from other sources and can provide evidence of such support.
  • ACC support should constitute seed funding intended to encourage financial support from other sources, including corporate sponsorships.
  • While grant amounts will be considered on a proposal basis, in general, individual grant funding does not exceed AUD 40,000. In exceptional circumstances the Council may decide that the project will become a priority activity of the ACC in that financial year and provide funding beyond the stated limit.
  • Where a project is of high quality, but financially beyond the Council's resources, the Council may decide to award the applicant a grant conditional on funds being raised from other sources.

4. Partnerships

  • The Council attaches great importance to the capacity of projects to develop new or strengthen existing partnerships between Australian organisations and individuals and their counterparts in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
  • Where projects are to be undertaken in conjunction with, or part funded by a Chinese or Australian organisation, applicants must demonstrate that sufficient support is available from the counterpart to ensure the success of the project. An example of such support might be in-kind or other support of the project provided by host/counterpart organisation. Copies of documentation to this effect should be provided. Where the support takes the form of guarantees by governmental or other agencies, documentary evidence of this should also be provided.

5. Outreach and Publicity

  • Provision should be made in the application for publicity or promotion of the project. Full acknowledgement of the Council’s support is required in all promotional materials and publications associated with ACC-funded projects.

In addition, the Australia-China Council programs and grant-making activities are informed by the following principles:

  • Creativity and Innovation: The Council-funded projects generate new ideas and identify new areas of contact between Australia and China
  • Equality and Diversity: Projects promote and encourage gender equality, cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, and facilitate engagement between Australian and Chinese regions and areas outside major capital cities and business hubs
  • Accountability: Projects have clear key performance indicators and comply with the Australian government’s financial and other reporting requirements

Step 6 - Responsibilities of Successful Applicants and Grant Conditions

Funding recipients are responsible for the following:

  • All administrative costs and arrangements associated with their activities, including visa and travel arrangements, visa charges, airport taxes, ground transport, travel and health insurance and accommodation.
  • Making arrangements regarding any taxation liabilities, which may arise from the award of funding. Payment will only be made after receipt of the signed Funding Acceptance form, and a Tax Invoice (with GST included in the case of GST-registered funding recipients).
  • Funding recipients who do not have an ABN are required to provide the Secretariat with a completed form ATO Statement by a Supplier form .
  • Applicants should read the conditions contained in the Funding Agreement carefully before submitting an Expression of Interest and/or Application. The Australia-China Council reserves the right to withdraw funding if a grant recipient fails to comply with the Australia-China Council’s Funding Agreement.

Funding agreement

Grant recipients will be required to sign a legally-binding funding agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the grant and the requirement to provide an acquittal within two months of the completion of the project.

Example of the funding agreement [DOCX 88 KB]

Grant recipients will be required to provide a tax invoice, in accordance with GST legislation, for each payment of grant funds in accordance with the payment dates set out in the funding agreement. Payment of a grant will not be made until the agreement has been signed by all the relevant parties and the grant recipient has submitted an invoice. Applicants should not start the project until the agreement has been signed by all relevant parties.

Funding must be used for the specific activities outlined in the application and only towards those costs indicated in the budget for ACC funding expenditure. Recipients may request changes to the agreement in writing to the ACC Secretariat, but this does not guarantee the request will be approved. The recipient must repay any unspent funds and/or funds spent on non-approved items promptly.

If a grant cannot be taken up within the specified time period, it may be withdrawn. Any changes to the timing of the project, including delays, should be reported immediately to the ACC Secretariat. If required, a request for extension should also be submitted in writing. Requests for extension will be considered but may not be approved.

Acquittal Report

A condition of funding is that the applicant will provide an acquittal report on the project and an adequate financial acquittal within 30 days of the completion of the activities for which the funding is provided. The acquittal report will include an evaluation of the project and its outcomes, accompanied by supporting evidence and a certified financial acquittal. An audited financial statement may also be required. Failure to do so will prevent the applicant from being given further funding and may lead to grant recovery action. Acquittal report can be submitted online – the link to the online acquittal report will be sent to all successful grant applicants.

No guarantee of ongoing funding

Unless specified, approval of any grant to an individual, group or organisation does not commit DFAT to any future funding of that individual, group or organisation. Funding will be awarded to those who best meet the selection criteria within the amount of funds available.


Grant recipients are responsible for all administrative costs and arrangements associated with their project including visa and travel arrangements, visa charges, airport taxes, ground transport, travel and health insurance for project participants, medical and hospital insurance cover for visitors not covered by Medicare in Australia (including evacuation and death cover), any necessary insurance for equipment, and accommodation costs and arrangements. Grant recipients must be covered by appropriate insurance, including public liability insurance. DFAT may request evidence of the currency and amount of cover under all relevant policies.

Administering grants

Groups, unincorporated associations and other bodies with no legal status are required to nominate either a member of the group or a legally constituted organisation to take responsibility for administering the grant, should they be successful in receiving ACC grant.

The applicant, the nominated member or an administering body should provide the acquittal once the project is completed (see Acquittal Report section above). Both the applicant and the administering body will be considered responsible for unsatisfactorily acquitted grants. The administering body is not responsible for the artistic direction or the artistic quality of the project. Generally, the administering body would be required to sign the funding agreement.

Grant applicants should enter into a written agreement with their administering body, setting out the respective rights and responsibilities of both parties in relation to the grant's administration and acquittal. The agreement should also contain a dispute resolution clause setting out procedures to be followed in the event of a disagreement between the parties.

An organisation may be the administering body for as many DFAT grants as they see fit. Administering bodies may make grant applications in their own right.

Access and equity services

Applicants may speak with the ACC Secretariat in their first language by telephoning the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 (local call anywhere in Australia) and asking to be connected with the ACC Secretariat.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants may wish to access assistance in submitting an application where English is not their first language. In these cases, applicants may contact an Indigenous language centre for assistance. A list of Indigenous language centres is provided in the National Indigenous Languages Contacts Directory available from:

The Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture (Corporation) (FATSILC)
295 King Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9602 4700
Fax: +61 3 9602 4770

Taxation and grants

Grants paid by DFAT may be considered part of an applicant's income in a financial year and may be subject to tax, including the GST. Individual applicants need to be mindful of the taxation obligations of receiving a grant as an individual. It is the applicant's responsibility to understand their taxation obligations and liabilities. Advice is available from the Australian Taxation Office on 13 28 66 or at

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) enables applicants to request documents held by DFAT. If applicants wish to access documents under the FOI Act they must make a formal application. Charges may apply. Access to information under the FOI Act is limited by certain exemptions and an authorised decision-maker will assess any requested documents prior to any release of information.


All personal information provided in support of an application is treated in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988. The information provided in grant applications is used when processing and assessing applications. This information may also be used for training and system testing by DFAT staff and for evaluating the program.

The personal information provided by applicants will be stored centrally and will be available to Commonwealth officers and the government on a need-to-know basis.

Personal information concerning successful grant applicants may be disclosed to the ACC, to other Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory governments, media representatives, members of Parliament and the general public. DFAT may also publish this information in its Annual Report and on its website. DFAT is required to publish information about the ACC Grants Program on its website, including details of each grant awarded (for example, the recipient's name, state, suburb and postcode, the purpose and value of the grant, the date the funding agreement takes effect and the term of the agreement).

Rights and responsibilities

Funding under the ACC Grants Program does not imply or determine that DFAT endorses the views of the artists or participants involved in funded activity. Grant recipients are required to comply with all applicable domestic and international laws, and their activity should not bring DFAT into disrepute.

Travel safety

In planning overseas travel, it is recommended that applicants refer to DFAT's travel advisory service, Smartraveller. DFAT maintains travel advisories for more than 160 destinations, which provide accurate, up-to-date information about the risks Australians might face overseas. This information enables applicants to make well-informed decisions about whether, when and where to travel. DFAT encourages applicants and project personnel to register their travel with Smartraveller. This service can be accessed online at

Notwithstanding any assistance provided by DFAT in facilitating international travel through an ACC grant, applicants are responsible for their own travel insurance and travel at their own risk.

Step 7 - Online Application

The online application system will be accessible on the opening date and will close on the closing date at the times indicated above. Late entries will not be accepted. We recommend applicants not to wait until the last day to submit their applications.

Last Updated: 30 March 2016