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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

ABA Grants Information and Application Process

Indigenous AffairsGrants and Funding
Tuesday, 02 November 2021
Publication author(s):
National Indigenous Australians Agency
Publication abstract:

Information on the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) grant funding application process.

Information on Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) Open Grants funding

The ABA is a Special Account that benefits Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory (NT), established as part of the arrangements under the Aboriginals Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, also known as the ALRA.

The ABA receives monies from the Commonwealth based on the value of royalties generated from mining on Aboriginal land in the NT.

The ABA funds the open grant funding round, and this is often referred to as ABA grants or simply ABA.

The ABA has been around in various formats for over 60 years and is well known for the support it has given to Aboriginal people in the NT.

All applications are reviewed by the ABA Advisory Committee (ABAAC). The ABAAC considers applications based on the benefit to Aboriginal people in the NT and then provides advice to the Minister for Indigenous Australians, who is the final decision maker/delegate.

Members of the ABAAC are representatives from across the NT and are nominated by their respective land council.

Applicants can begin to prepare their application/s at any time; however, it is recommended applicants review the ABA Grant Opportunity Guidelines and the Supplementary Information prior to commencing. If applicants require additional information, they can contact the ABA Team in the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) by phone on 1800 354 612 or by email ABA@official.niaa.gov.au

The new ABA Grant Opportunity Guidelines eligible activities have broadened since previous rounds, this includes:

  • Funding for multi-year projects.
  • An administrative costs or wages component for non-ongoing employees.
  • Projects that could be funded by the government or mainstream services but where the budget may not be available in the short term.
  • Projects where non-Indigenous Australians may deliver a service or project which benefits Indigenous Australians (please provide evidence of community support).
ABA Advisory Committee (ABAAC)

ABAAC are a committee consisting of Aboriginal members nominated by each land council from across the NT. The Chair is appointed by the Minister.

The ABAAC provides recommendations to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on suitable applications for Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) grant funding.

See the Aboriginals Benefit Account Advisory Committee (ABAAC) page for information on members and communique.

Who can apply

Applicants applying for funding under this ABA Open Grants opportunity must:

  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN) (exemptions may apply in special cases but not for individuals/sole traders).
  • Where relevant, be registered for the purposes of GST.
  • If an individual, be a permanent resident of Australia.
  • Have an account with an Australian financial institution.

AND be one of the following entity types:

  • An Aboriginal individual or Aboriginal sole trader.
  • An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).
  • A company incorporated in Australia under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
  • An Incorporated association (incorporated under state/territory legislation, commonly with 'Association' or 'Incorporated' or 'Inc' in their legal name).
  • An Incorporated cooperative (also incorporated under state/territory legislation, commonly with ’Cooperative' in their legal name).
  • An organisation established through a specific piece of Commonwealth or state/territory legislation including public benevolent institutions.
  • An Australian state or territory government body.
  • An Australian local government body.
  • An incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust.
  • A partnership.
  • A joint, partnership or auspice (consortium) application under a lead organisation that is an eligible entity.

In addition you must:

  • Have rectified, or are in the process of rectifying, any issues of previous non-compliance with existing Commonwealth funding agreements to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth. AND
  • Be financially viable. The application form has questions about your financial viability. NIAA may undertake its own enquiries in relation to applicants’ financial viability.

Preference to fund suitable Indigenous Organisations

The Australian Government has committed to increase funding to Indigenous organisations where grant funding aims to benefit Indigenous Australians. Where there are similarly rated proposals (i.e. where proposals are equally rated in suitability against the assessment criteria), the ABA Advisory Committee may give ordered preference to fund:

  1. Organisations with at least 51% members/owners identifying as Indigenous and at least 51% Board members/directors identifying as Indigenous.
  2. Organisations with at least 51% members/owners identifying as Indigenous, or 51% board members/directors identifying as Indigenous. And then
  3. Any organisation, including non-Indigenous organisations and government bodies, with a demonstrated commitment to increasing Indigenous management, employment, supplier use and/or engagement.

NIAA may gather information from successful applicants to determine the number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations funded through the ABA; and the number and percentage of Indigenous people employed in all funded organisations.

NIAA may also gather information from successful applicants about the total value and number of contracts for goods and services that are provided by Indigenous Enterprises.

Eligible projects for ABA Open Grants funding
  • Projects that will be delivered in the NT
  • Projects that are for the benefit of Aboriginal people in the NT
  • Projects that support the participation of Indigenous controlled organisations wherever possible
  • Projects that promote employment for Aboriginal people in the NT
  • Projects that demonstrate they are not the responsibility of mainstream funding sources
  • Projects that align with one of the four following categories:
    • Supporting Enterprises
    • Supporting Community
    • Supporting Culture, Language and Leadership
    • Supporting Land, Sea and Waters Management and Use
  • Business projects that Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) considers are viable

(please review information under drop-down menu ‘how to apply’)

  • Land acquisition, land management or agriculture projects that the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) considers are viable

(please review information under drop-down menu ‘how to apply’)

For more information review section 5.1 of the ABA Grant Opportunity Guidelines.

Where to go for support/assistance

NT Land Council ABA Support Officers

Each of the four NT Land Councils now have an ABA Support Officer. The ABA Support Officer/s can assist with preparing and submitting your online application/s. To contact your relevant ABA Support Officer please see below.

Land Council Location Switchboard
Anindilyakwa Land Council 30 Bougainvillea Drive
ALYANGULA NT 0885
08 8987 4000
Central Land Council 27 Stuart Highway
ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870
08 8951 6211
Northern Land Council 45 Mitchell Street
DARWIN NT 0801
08 8920 5100
Tiwi Land Council
(Darwin Office)
116 Reichardt Road
WINNELLIE NT 0820
08 8997 0797

ABA Team, National Indigenous Australian’s Agency (NIAA)

The ABA Team can be contacted by phone on 1800 354 612 or by email ABA@official.niaa.gov.au

NIAA Regional Network Office/s

A list of NIAA offices across the NT can be found below. Alternatively, you can call 1800 079 098 which will put you through to the closest NIAA Regional office to where you are phoning from.

Region Location Switchboard
Alice Springs Supreme Court Building
Level 3, 14 Parsons Street
ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870
08 8958 4200
Darwin Jacana House
Level 5, 39-41 Woods Street
DARWIN NT 0800
08 7972 4100
Katherine Randazzo Building
Level 1, 14 Katherine Terrace KATHERINE NT 0850
08 7978 2000
Nhulunbuy 74 Chesterfield Street
NHULUNBUY NT 0881
08 8968 8477
Tennant Creek 1-9 Paterson Street
TENNANT CREEK NT 0861
08 7978 1900

*You can call toll free number 1800 079 098 to be directed to your closest regional office*

How to apply

Step 1

Read the information under the 'Who can Apply'

Step 2

Read the information under 'Specific advice for applicants'

Step 3

Read the ABA Supplementary Information (DOCX 180KB)

Note: The ABA Grant Opportunity Guidelines (DOCX 353KB) should be referred to as the primary source of information

Step 4

For business applications, review the ABA IBA Checklist (DOCX 164KB)

For land acquisition, land management, and agriculture applications, review the ABA ILSC Checklist (DOCX 165KB)

Step 5

Prepare your proposed budget for the life of the project using the budget template (XLSX 24KB)

Note: Formal quotes less than 12 months old will be required and need to be attached to your application prior to submission

Step 6

Prepare your attachments:

  • Business Plan (for business applications over $500,000)
  • Project Management Plan (for non-business applications over $500,000)
  • Quotes that are less than 12 months old
  • Letters of support from stakeholders
  • Letters from partners (for joint or consortium applications)
  • Documents to support land tenure, use or access (for land dependent applications)
  • Provide the IBA response to your proposal (for business applications)
  • Provide the ILSC response to your proposal (for land acquisition, land management, or agriculture applications)

Step 7

Complete the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) Grant Opportunity Application Form

Step 8

The NIAA aims to notify you of the outcome of your application within 6 weeks from the date of each meeting of the ABA Advisory Committee when recommendations are made on applications. The ABA Advisory Committee (ABAAC) meeting dates are yet to be determined. Once the dates are finalised, this information will be provided on the ABA webpage. Please check this page regularly for further updates, otherwise please contact the ABA team if you have any queries.

Note: If you do not have internet access or require further information please call the ABA Team on 1800 354 612 or email ABA@official.niaa.gov.au

How applications are assessed
  • The Agency assesses every compliant application received by the closing date.
  • The Agency provides its assessment to the ABAAC for their consideration. The ABAAC reviews the proposal and provides advice to the Minister.
  • The Minister uses this information when deciding which applications will proceed to the negotiation of a funding agreement.
  • The assessment period takes approximately 14 weeks from the round closing.
  • Successful applicants will be notified in writing. If successful, you will be required to enter into a funding agreement with the Agency. You will need to meet the conditions included in your agreement. The Grant Agreement template (PDF) | (DOCX) is an example of the general conditions.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will also be notified in writing. Applicants will be able to request feedback in writing, via telephone or by meeting with the ABA team.
  • Note: you will need to be incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 or the Corporations Act 2001 if you:
    1. are an organisation, and
    2. receive more than $499,999 of Commonwealth funding in a financial year.
  • Successful proposals will also be posted to this webpage under the outcome of previous rounds and ABAAC communique tab.

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