Great Barrier
Reef Foundation
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$1.5 million grant program to empower Reef Traditional Owners

Traditional Owner groups that hold rights and interests in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and its catchments are invited to apply for grants which will deliver up to $1.5 million total funding for Reef protection projects. 

These grants delivered through the Reef Trust Partnership are the first step in a broader program of investment in Traditional Owner Reef protection activities. The Foundation has allocated a total of $42 million to Traditional Owner Reef protection activities over six years through to 2023-24.

3 key focus areas of the grants program

Focus area 1: Supporting Traditional Owner groups to undertake (land and sea) country-based planning

Funding for Traditional Owner groups who don't have a country-based plan or wish to renew an existing plan. Activities could include:

  • Traditional Owner workshops or on-country activities that allow for the recording, documentation and safeguarding of traditional knowledge and country-based aspirations
  • Enabling Elders and knowledge holders to participate in the planning process
  • Documenting and reporting on the values that exist within Traditional Owner estates and their management

Grants valued up to $150,000

Focus area 2: Supporting Traditional Owner groups to implement their (land and sea) country-based plans

Funding to support Traditional Owner groups to look after country by implementing or facilitating on-ground and in-water activities in accordance with their community endorsed country-based plans. Activities could include:

  • On-ground and in-water activities
  • Enabling Elders and knowledge holders to guide, mentor and participate in on-ground and in-water activities
  • Cultural mapping and knowledge documentation
  • Coastal, wetland, island and sea country activities
  • Caring for culturally significant plants and animals
  • Research and monitoring activities
  • Capacity building, knowledge sharing and project updates

Grants valued up to $150,000

Focus area 3: Supporting Indigenous junior ranger programs that provide leadership, resilience and collaborative opportunities within communities

Funding for Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner groups seeking to establish or support existing junior ranger programs within their community. Activities could include:

  • Activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, together with non-Indigenous children, to learn about culture, country and community
  • Enabling Elders and knowledge holders to guide, mentor and participate in junior ranger programs, including where this supports community cohesion, cultural and artistic strengthening, language revitalisation, and individual and community healing
  • Equipment and supplies directly supporting junior ranger activities 

Grants valued up to $50,000

Funding available

Total funding available under initial grant program$1.5 million
Focus area 1 Maximum project funding (2-year projects)

Up to $150,000 for country-based planning projects that will result in development of a country-based plan
Focus area 2 Maximum project funding (2-year projects)Up to $150,000 for implementing activities detailed in existing country-based plans
Focus area 3 Maximum project funding (2-year projects)
Up to $50,000 for junior ranger programs

* Traditional Owner groups may only submit one application for either focus area 1 or 2.

* Traditional Owner groups may make a second, separate application if they also wish to apply for junior ranger funding (focus area 3).

Key dates

Grant applications open25 February 2019
Applications close17 March 2019, 11.59pm AEST (Queensland time)
Successful applicants announcedApril 2019
Projects to commenceJune 2019
Projects to be completedJune 2021


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner Grant program?

The Reef Trust Partnership between the Australian Government and the GBRF is centred on a landmark investment of $443.3 million to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. This is the largest single government investment in protecting the reef and its Outstanding Universal Value.

The investment of $443.3 million has been made to tackle critical issues of water quality, crown-of-thorns starfish control, using the best science to restore reefs and support Reef resilience and adaptation, Reef health monitoring and reporting, and to increase community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s engagement in Reef protection.

The Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner Grant Program will provide grants to enable Traditional Owner groups to fund projects from three key focus areas:

(a)   Supporting Traditional Owner groups to undertake (land and sea) country-based planning  

(b)   Supporting Traditional Owner groups to implement their (land and sea) country-based plans Supporting Indigenous junior ranger programs that provide leadership, resilience and collaborative opportunities within communities.

(c)   Supporting Indigenous junior ranger programs that provide leadership, resilience and collaborative opportunities within communities.

How much funding is available?

Through this grant program, a total of $1.5 million is available to fund projects.

Applications that focus on planning projects, which will result in the development of a country-based plan can apply for funding between $50,000 and $150,000 (GST exclusive)

For Traditional Owner groups that already have a country-based plan, applications can be made for funding between $50,00 and $150,000 (GST exclusive) to implement activities that are detailed in the existing plan.

Grant applications that focus on junior ranger program activities (or establishment of a junior ranger program) can apply for funds between $10,000 and $50,000 (GST exclusive).

*GST exclusive means that GST does not need to be included in the funding amount requested by the applicant.

Who can apply?

The grant program is open to Traditional Owner groups of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Catchment provided the activities proposed occur within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Reef catchment.

This includes Traditional Owner groups from the Torres Strait Islands Eastern Goup (Mer, Erub and Ugar) in the north, to groups located near Bundaberg in the south.

Which Traditional Owner groups are eligible to apply for a grant?

For purposes of this funding program round, groups making a grant application must be Traditional Owners for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area or Great Barrier Reef Catchment where the Grant Program activities are proposed. In addition to this, the group must be a legal entity (see below).

Organisations must be a legal entity to apply for Sea Country Partnerships Grants.

Eligible legal entities include groups that are:

  • An incorporated association
  • A body corporate
  • A company
  • A cooperative society
  • An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander corporation, council or incorporated association
  • A trust duly constituted

If your group is not a legal entity, you may apply for funding via a sponsoring organisation.

What is a sponsor?

If your group is not a legal entity, you may apply for funding via a sponsor that is a legal entity that can submit a proposal on your behalf.

What is the role and responsibility of the sponsoring organisation?

A sponsoring organisation must be a legal entity.

The sponsor has contractual and administrative responsibilities and becomes the proponent required to enter into a funding deed with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. By signing the funding deed, the sponsor becomes legally responsible for the project under the terms of the deed and will receive the project funding. 

The sponsor and applicant Traditional Owner group should agree on the arrangements for distributing project funds.

Sponsors may make applications for more than one Traditional Owner group (however the number of applications that can be made for Traditional Owners still applies – see section below ‘Can I make more than one application’.

Who cannot apply?

The following organisations are not eligible to apply for Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner grants other than as a sponsor.

  • Individuals (not eligible to sponsor)
  • Organisations that as of the application closing date have overdue final reports and/or acquittals for other grant programs.

How do I apply?

The grant round opens on 25 February 2019. Applications must be submitted to the following email address: using the grant program application form by 17 March 2019, 11.59pm AEST (Queensland time). 

The application form and grant guidelines are available to download at

There are a number of documents that must be provided as part of your application – give yourself enough time to ensure you can obtain them and attach them in the application email.

What sort of supporting documents might I need to supply?

You might need to attach copies of:

  • Health and safety plans
  • Risk management plans
  • Letter of support from the Traditional Owner group
  • Letter of support from any researchers, consultants, etc that you may have budgeted for in the proposal (not mandatory)
  • Copies of insurance certificates (workers compensation, public liability, etc) – see application form for details of these.

The detail provided should match the cost and complexity of your project.

When do applications close?

All applications must be submitted via emailing by 17 March 2019. The completed application form with any of its supporting documentation must be submitted electronically by 11.59pm – Queensland time.

Late applications will not be accepted.

The applicant is responsible for completing the proposal.

The application must be completed by the organisation which is able to enter into a funding agreement with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The proponent is either the applicant (Traditional Owner group) or sponsor that receives and administers the grant.

Can Great Barrier Reef Foundation staff help me complete the application form? 

No. Great Barrier Reef Foundation staff are able to clarify any questions you have regarding the application form, but they are not able to help you complete it. 

Can you apply for funding for projects or work already underway?

No. Applications should be submitted for new projects or further stages of an existing project. There should be no duplication of funding between existing projects and new applications made under this grant program.  Activities that are already funded under State or Federal Government programs such as Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs), Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRAs), Working on Country (WoC) or the Looking After Country Grant Program should not be included in this grant application, however new activities that might complement or extend work done under these programs are permitted.  Established junior ranger programs can apply for funding to extend and operationalise their programs. 

Is accommodation while travelling considered an eligible activity?

Yes. Funds can be used for domestic travelling if it relates to the project. All travel must be incorporated into the proposed budget for the project. International travel is not eligible under this grant program.

Can I submit more than one application form?

Yes – however, only one application per Traditional Owner group can be made for either focus area (1) or (2)

(1)    those groups wanting to undertake (land and sea) country-based planning 

(2)    groups intending to implement their (land and sea) country-based plans

A second application will only be accepted if a Traditional Owner group wishes to also apply for separate funding under focus area (3).

(3)    Junior ranger program.

If two applications are submitted, they must be on separate application forms

How much detail should I put in the budget and if I miss something can I put it in later?

Items that were not budgeted in the original application will not be funded. Applicants must consider all aspects of their project and ensure they include all relevant costs within their application. Additional funds are not available to meet costs which may have increased after the application was submitted.

Provide a detailed breakdown of the project activities and costs so that the assessment panel can understand how you intend to use the grant funds and to consider the reasonableness of the costs you are specifying.

How will I be notified that my application has been received?

When you email your application, you should receive a confirmation email that your application has been received. If you do not receive a confirmation email – please email or contact the GBRF on 07 32527555.

If I need to make a change to my submitted application, what do I do?

No changes are permitted once applications have been submitted. Please read your application carefully before submitting to ensure that you have completed every relevant section and that all the information is true and correct.

Can individuals apply if they have a sponsor and demonstrate community support?

No. As an individual you are not eligible to apply either with or without a sponsor.

What are the assessment criteria?

Applications will be assessed against criteria that are detailed in the Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner Grant Guidelines (Section 10).

Read these criteria carefully and try to include as much relevant information as you can to assist the assessment panel in making a decision about your application.

If I am successful, when can I start my project?

Successful applicants will receive a funding deed that will need to be signed and returned before your project can begin.

Any specified conditions of funding must be met before full payment for the project can be processed and the project commences.

After the funding deed is executed (signed by both Parties) your project can begin. Your project should be ready to start in June 2019.

When will the funding be in the bank?

The payment will be processed only when the successful applicant has accepted the terms of the funding by signing and returning the funding deed.

How long do I have to complete the project?

The end date of the project must be on or before 30 June 2021.

What are the reporting requirements at the completion of my project?

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation places a high priority on monitoring and reporting for all Reef Trust Partnership funded projects.  The monitoring and reporting requirements are:

  • Tracking of expenditure for acquittal
  • A process to record and report project achievements at a minimum every 6 months 
  • A final report on project outcomes and financial expenditure

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation acknowledges both the Turrbul people and the Yugara (Jagera) people and their Elders, past, present and emerging, as the custodians for the land and waters upon which the Brisbane office stands. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation also extends its deepest respect and recognition to all of the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef as First Nations Peoples holding the hopes, dreams, traditions and cultures of the Reef.

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