Australia-Japan Foundation Grants Round 2016-17: Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose and scope of AJF grant funding?

AJF grants are intended to provide seed funding for innovative proposals relevant to the aims and objectives of the AJF. Wherever possible, the AJF will seek to expand people‐to‐people and institutional links through partnerships with organisations and seed funding of projects to catalyse ongoing impact extending Australia’s reach and reputation.

Applicants should demonstrate the potential for the development of sustainable links between individuals and institutions in Australia and their counterparts in Japan.

What can I get a grant for?

The AJF provides modest funding for innovative proposals relevant to the mission and goals of the AJF. This includes proposals which demonstrate the potential for the development of medium to long-term links between individuals and institutions in Australia and counterparts in Japan.

In any financial year the AJF will look to fund a diverse range of activities that further the AJF’s goals and are preferably under the AJF’s funding priority areas, both in Australia and Japan, including projects which have a reach outside the major cities. The AJF’s funding priority areas are outlined in the 2014-17 Strategic Plan. The AJF currently supports projects under the broad themes of arts and culture (including sport), education and economic diplomacy.

Can I apply for a grant?

Applications are open to individuals who are Australian citizens or permanent residents, Australian entities with an ABN or ACN and to Japanese citizens and organisations.

What defines a grant?

If you are applying for funding principally to fund an activity that will be carried out with no direct financial or in-kind (such as goods and services) benefit to DFAT and to further a shared aim of developing people-to-people links between Australia and Japan, then the proposal falls under the definition of a grant.

However, if the funding proposal gives rise to an expectation of a direct reciprocal benefit to DFAT, that is, financial or in-kind benefit, all or part of the funding would be treated as a procurement and subject to the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. For example, if a potential grant recipient is delivering a conference on behalf of DFAT and the funding request includes a specified amount for management services, this component would be excluded from the grant process and treated as a procurement. This is because DFAT benefits from the management services provided.

What are the chances of getting a grant?

The grant process is very competitive. The AJF Board assesses grant applications by considering how the proposal will further the goals of the AJF and whether the application meets the guidelines for grant submissions. The AJF Strategic Plan 2014-2017 outlines the goals of the AJF. The AJF has a limited budget, which often means that unfortunately not all projects that satisfy the guidelines and further the goals of the AJF can be funded.  

The AJF also considers a range of issues when selecting successful projects including:

  • the spread of projects across Australia and Japan;
  • the spread of projects across the AJF’s identified priorities
  • whether the activity would involve a sharing or transfer of expertise from which individuals or institutions in both countries will benefit and in ways that directly advance AJF  objectives; and
  • whether the project will result in medium to longer term outcomes through expansion of links in new areas and networks, consistent with AJF objectives.

How much are AJF grants?

Most AJF grants awarded are in the range of AUD5000 to AUD40,000 (exclusive of GST). 

Larger grants may be considered for approval but only in the case of particularly worthwhile projects.

The AJF reserves the right to provide less funding than that sought by the applicant. It is important that applicants actively explore other funding options to supplement AJF funding and not rely solely on the AJF.  Grant applicants that have supplementary financial from other sources, including the applicant's own resources or corporate sponsors, will be viewed favourably by the AJF when assessing proposals. In-kind support (such as accommodation and services provided without charge in either country) is also viewed favourably.

How do I apply?

You need to submit an online application through smartygrants ( at the time the Grant Round is announced, usually in February-April period each year with results announced around mid-July.

How do I find out when the Grant Round opens?

The Grant Round will be announced on AJF's Facebook, the AJF website and through AJF networks.  

What if I need a grant quickly or 'out of time'?

The AJF conducts one Grant Round a year.

Who decides who gets a grant?

The AJF Board reviews the initial assessments of the AJF Secretariat (in consultation with the Australian Embassy in Tokyo and relevant areas within DFAT) and makes the final recommendation on each application.  This process is usually conducted at the formal meeting of the Board following the closure of the Grants Round (around late June/early July).  The AJF Board may refer some applications to a Reserve List to be reconsidered at a later point in the financial year and pending advice of further funding.  The AJF Board may review rejected applications and change their status to ‘recommend for reconsideration’.  All decisions are fully documented.

Is there a page limit for the application form?

There are some word limits in the smartygrants form. Remember, the assessment committee has to read many applications, and the clearer your argument the more likely your application will stand out.

Do I need to brief my referees about the project and participants?

Yes. You need to demonstrate that you have a track record and are going to be able to do what you say you are going to do in the application and that there is likely to be a long-term outcome.

How long should a CV of the main project participants be?

CV's should be no longer than one page.

Do I need to have had contact with my project partner in Australia/Japan before sending in an application?

The AJF attaches considerable importance to the capacity of applicants to develop new or strengthen existing partnerships between Australian/Japanese organisations and individuals and their counterparts.

The project should be well thought out and ready to be implemented and completed within a 12 month period.  You should have, at least, in-principle support from the organisation or people you identify as being your project partners in your application, and project counterparts in the other country should be well-briefed about the project and their role in it.  You should include written support from your project partner/s with the application.

Where projects are to be undertaken in conjunction with, or part funded by a Japanese 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.

If I am successful, what happens next?

If you are successful we will send you an email advising you of your success around mid-July. The AJF Secretariat will then forward a copy of a Funding Agreement stating the terms and conditions of accepting the grant funding for you to sign. The Board may request further information prior to providing funding and this will need to be provided quickly, or risk losing the grant funding.

You will also be required to submit an online Communications Outline (media/communications strategy) through smartygrants which will be used when successful Grant details are advertised on the AJF and DFAT websites.  The Communications Outline is also an important tool for the AJF to promote projects including through social media. 

Grant recipients must acknowledge the support of the AJF on any promotional materials or publications they produce and during the course of the activity they undertake.  The AJF logo and the AJF 40th anniversary logo (for projects taking place in 2016) should be used where possible and can be downloaded from the AJF website.

Invitations to AJF Board members for key events associated with the project and promotional giveaways (through AJF) are highly desirable and successful grantees should discuss with the Secretariat at an early juncture in the project ways in which the AJF Chair or Board members may have an official role such as delivering remarks at a project event (eg launch/opening ceremony).

The AJF will be able to transfer funds to the nominated account upon the receipt of your invoice (around 4-6 weeks out of the start of your project). 

Can I appeal a grant decision?

The Boards decision is final and there is no mechanism for appeal.  Unsuccessful applicants will be able to seek verbal feedback from the AJF Secretariat on request.

What do I need to do to complete my grant?

Following completion of the project you will need to submit an online Acquittal Report through smartygrants, detailing how the funds were spent, what the outcomes of your project were and how you achieved them (usually within 30 days of project completion). We also expect the successful grant recipients to provide updates to the Secretariat throughout the project cycle. The final acquittal report must include:

  • a description of the main activities undertaken;
  • any quantitative or qualitative performance measures such as:
    • number of participants/audience spectators
    • number/value of ticket sales
    • details of media coverage
    • feedback from participants;
  • an assessment of how the activities contributed to achieving the project's stated objectives;
  • any difficulties encountered in implementing the project;
  • any follow-up activities arising from the project; and
  • at least one high-quality resolution digital photograph (200 dpi) suitable for publication with the photo credit and relevant caption.

You will need to provide any materials that were produced as a result of the grant (e.g. reports, journal articles, policy papers) and publicity materials (including, video, photographs, and online features).  You will also need to keep receipts for up to five years to provide upon request.

I’ve received an AJF grant before, can I apply again?

Yes, but the AJF generally does not fund projects over more than three successive years. 

Grants will not be provided to individuals or organisations that have failed to provide a proper acquittal of an earlier grant provided by the AJF.

What kind of activities does AJF fund?

The AJF has a policy of supporting innovative proposals in a broad range of areas. Applicants should refer to the list of approved AJF projects over past years. 

If my AJF grant covers travel, what am I responsible for?

AJF grantees are responsible for making all travel arrangements associated with their project including:

  • visa arrangements and associated charges
  • travel bookings
  • airport taxes
  • ground transport
  • travel and health insurance
  • medical and hospital insurance cover for visitors not covered by Medicare in Australia (including evacuation and death cover)
  • any necessary insurance for equipment
  • accommodation arrangements and associated charges
  • passport arrangements and associated charges (note: all participants are expected to travel on personal passports - official or diplomatic passports will not be issued).

Air fare components of grants should be costed at a reasonable economy class fare. The AJF will not reimburse applicants for additional expenses incurred because of late bookings or other problems requiring tickets to be paid for at a higher rate.

AJF Grantees travel at their own risk and are expected to read all relevant travel advice, including on Smartraveller particularly in relation to travel to Japan, before undertaking any AJF-funded trips.

The AJF will not accept any liability for medical, hospital, property loss, theft or evacuation costs incurred by participants in projects funded by the AJF.

What kind of activities does AJF not fund?

Grants are not normally available for the following purposes:

  • Capital expenditure in real property, equipment or computer software.
  • Conference/meeting travel. An exception to the general rule may be made for participants in conferences when the subject of the conference is of direct relevance to the Australia-Japan 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.
  • Activities that are properly the responsibility of other funding bodies or other government agencies (e.g. development assistance projects, activities under bilateral science and technology agreements, projects normally handled by Austrade or industry promotion bodies, etc.).
  • 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.
  • Activities that are commercially viable in their own right.
  • Any project in which the Australia-Japan component is incidental to the main aims of the project.
  • 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 (fees for artists/performers which are specific to the project may be requested).
  • Translation costs other than for Japanese-language material/s.
  • Funding of completed projects, or recurrent funding of projects.
  • Salaries and Honorariums that are part of the normal operating costs. Salary costs, including artist/s fees that are specific to the project may be funded, however, you should seek clarification with the Secretariat on eligibility for funding.
  • Research which is more appropriately funded by universities, the Australian Research Council or other institutions.
  • Contingency funding.

What happens if there is a Conflict of Interest?

The AJF Board members and Secretariat staff must disclose actual or perceived conflicts 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 Conduct and Ethics manual is available online.

What are AJF’s Publication Awards and who can apply?

AJF’s Publication Awards support the publication of quality books related to Australian studies in Japan.  These will usually be written in the Japanese language.  Publication Awards are open to Japan-based academics and researchers who wish to publish works in Japan. 

Publications should focus on issues of mutual relevance and interest relating to Australia and Japan.  Applications must be submitted online via smartygrants ( using the ‘Publication Award’ application form.  The awards are worth up to $10,000 per publication. 

Further information can be sought from the AJF Secretariat at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo ( 

How many applications can a large institution, such as a university, submit in the 2016-17 grant round?

All applications submitted by large institutions will be considered in 2016-17. The most competitive applications will be those with letters of support from the relevant Research Office highlighting the alignment of the proposed project to AJF’s goals, the relevance of the project to the University’s strategic goals in the relevant country and demonstrating that the project is not more appropriately funded by the Australia Research Council or alternative Commonwealth funding body.

Last Updated: 2 March 2016