More information on ABA Grants

Indigenous AffairsGrants and Funding
Monday, 03 December 2018
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
More information on ABA

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

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

The ABA fund various activities with the most notable being the operations of the NT lands councils and ABA beneficial grants.  

The ABA beneficial grants are 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). ABAAC consider applications based on the benefit for Aboriginal people in the NT and then provide advice to the Minister. Members of the ABAAC are representatives from across the NT and are nominated by their respective land council.

ABA is delivered by funding rounds. Rounds are generally open for two months with a round at the start of the year and another in the middle of the year.

Applicants can begin to prepare their proposal at any time, however it is recommended that they contact the ABA team on 1800 354 612 or aba@network.pmc.gov.au prior to starting.

Who can apply?

The preference is for ABA to be delivered by Indigenous owned or controlled organisations.

Indigenous individuals (sole traders) based in the NT are also encouraged to apply.

Applicants must have:

  • an ABN and be registered for GST
  • ‘full legal capacity’ to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth

Applicants must not be:

Advice for State and NT government, non-Indigenous and/or interstate applicants

The preference is for non-Indigenous and/or non-NT based organisations to partner with NT based Indigenous organisations with the NT-Indigenous organisation submitting and managing the application. Whenever possible, it is preferred that partnership involves a skills transfer to the NT based Indigenous applicant.

 It is important to note that the preference is for:

  • Funding not to be requested for costs relating to non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, then the preference is for these costs to be covered by the applicant either through financial co-contribution or in-kind contribution.
  • The application to identify any interstate or international travel in the budget. These will be considered by the delegate.
What projects are eligible?
  • Projects that have a start and end date. ABA funding is not for ongoing programmes.
  • Projects that will be delivered in the NT.
  • Projects that are for the benefit of residents
  • Projects that support the participation of Indigenous controlled organisations.
  • Projects that promote employment of Indigenous Australians.
  • Projects that demonstrate they are not the responsibility of mainstream funding.
  • Business projects that IBA consider are viable.
  • Land acquisition or agriculture projects that the ILC consider are viable.
  • 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.
Specific advice: Business proposals

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the business for Indigenous people in the NT.
  • Strong claims regarding the need for business for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why the provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding. It is also beneficial to explain why lending or leasing is not being sought.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the business. Note if the request is over $250,000 a business plan will be required to demonstrate capacity.
  • The viability of the business must independently verified by IBA.
  • Applicants cannot refer to previous assessments or engagements with IBA or other business advisory services. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • All agriculture proposals should consult with the ILC. Note a viability check by IBA will also be required. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • If the business uses a premises or needs to access land (e.g. tourism) then a statement as to why land tenure or access rights will not inhibit the project will need to be made.
  • Formal quotes – less than 12 months old for assets.
  • The funding will not result in an anti-competitive situation.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • The applicant has engaged with IBA or a similar source of business support to develop their application. To find out more call ABA on 1800 354 612.
  • The applicant demonstrates commitment to the business by making a financial co-contribution. In-kind support is also beneficial but should not be presented as a substitute for a financial co-contribution.
  • No funding is requested for non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, the preference is for these costs to be covered by the financial co-contribution.
  • Many businesses portray the benefit of their project as being increased Indigenous employment.
  • Private entities including sole traders and partnerships should use the section on capacity to explain what will happen to assets if the business fails and how the benefit to Aboriginal people will remain.
  • If the applicant wishes to purchase a business then the valuation (price) must be transparent and contestable.
  • The applicant is aware that grants funding can have tax implications for businesses.
Specific advice: Construction and infrastructure

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the project for Indigenous people in the NT. 
  • Strong claims regarding the need for project for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why:
    • The provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding.
    • Grant funding is being sought over leasing or lending.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the project. Note if the request is over $250,000 a business applicants will be required to provide a business plan and non-business applicants a project management plan.
  • If the applicant is a business then viability of the business must be independently verified by IBA.
  • Applicants cannot refer to previous assessments or engagements with IBA or other business advisory services. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • Fixed price quotes from licence trades or cost estimates from an independent cost estimator are provided and are less than 12 months old.
  • The funding will not result in an anti-competitive situation.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • Business applicants demonstrate a commitment by making a financial co-contribution. In-kind support is also beneficial but should be presented as a substitute.
  • No funding is requested for non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, the preference is for these costs to be covered by the financial co-contribution and in-kind support.
  • Land tenure is resolved to the point that it will not affect the delivery of the project, this may require engagement with an NT land council or the Office of Township Leasing.
  • Construction in remote communities addresses the risk of obtaining permission to connect or reconnect from the utilities provider.
  • Construction outside of the NT building control area acknowledges that construction will undertaken as if it was within the NT building control area.
  • Projects will deliver a construction outcomes rather than concept plans or for-construction drawings.
  • Indigenous procurement is preferential. If non-Indigenous procurement is proposed, it is advisable to explain why.
  • Contingency funds for cost overruns are not a preference. Should the applicant be approved, cost overruns are to be managed through presenting a case to the delegate and variation to funding agreement.
  • Applications may wish to enhance their application by developing an Indigenous Employment Plan.
  • The applicant acknowledges that the funding may carry the condition of a purposes deed.
  • Not attributing the applications non-project overheads to the project or charging an administration fee- these are best provided to the project as an in-kind contribution.
  • Applicants that are planning to deliver the project to or with a group of NT Indigenous people need to demonstrate acceptance through letters of support.
  • Business applicants are aware that grants funding can have tax implications.
Specific advice: Festivals and cultural events

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the festival for Indigenous people in the NT.
  • Strong claims regarding the need for festival for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why the provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream arts, festivals and cultural funding.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the festival. Note if the request is over $250,000 a business plan or project management plan will be required to demonstrate capacity.
  • Quotes – less than 12 months old

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • Annual festivals present a project management or business plan (regardless of the funding sought being above or below $250,000) that includes a plan that outlines how the festival will move to sustainability (operations without reliance on grants funding).
  • Transparency of revenue from ticket sales and other funding sought or secured.
  • Financial co-contribution and in-kind support such as provision of the applicants staff, volunteers etc.
  • No funding is requested for non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, the preference is for these costs to be covered by the financial co-contribution and in-kind support.
Specific advice: Funerals and ceremonies assistance

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • That funerals and ceremonies support is delivered through NT Land Councils through a process that is separate to ABA Beneficial Grants.
Specific advice: Land and property acquisition

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the acquisition for Indigenous people in the NT. Note the benefit of the acquisition cannot be appreciating property value (an investment).
  • Strong claim regarding the need for acquisition for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why:
    • The provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding.
    • Grant funding is being sort over leasing or lending.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the business. Note if the request is over $250,000 a business applicant will be required to provide a business plan and service providers a project management plan.
  • If the applicant is a business then viability of the business must independently verified by IBA.
  • Applicants cannot refer to previous assessments or engagements with IBA or other business advisory services. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • All land and property acquisition must consult with the ILC. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • A robust and contestable valuation of the sale price must be presented.
  • The funding will not result in an anti-competitive situation.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • Business applicants demonstrate a commitment by making a financial co-contribution. In-kind support is also beneficial but should not be presented as a substitute.
  • Service providers transparently disclose if they receive grants funding for renting or leasing a premises and how the acquisition will affect their funding.
  • Private entities including sole traders and partnerships should use the section on capacity to explain what will happen to land or property if the business fails and how the benefit to Aboriginal people will remain.
  • The applicant acknowledges that the funding may carry the condition of a purposes deed.
  • Business applicants are aware that grants funding can have tax implications.
Specific advice: Projects that support service provision (including pilots)

It is important to note that ABA only funds projects and not programs. Projects have a start and end date. Some applications are for pilots, which are a trial project that tests for a program.

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the project for Indigenous people in the NT.
  • Strong claims regarding the need for project for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why the provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the project. Note if the request is over $250,000 a project management plan will be required to demonstrate capacity.
  • If the project uses a premises or needs to access land then a statement as to why land tenure or access rights will not inhibited the project will need to be made.
  • Quotes – less than 12 months old.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • For pilots – in the event of a successful pilot the proposal should outline how the pilot will migrate to a program and which alternative source of funding will support it. Letters of support from the alternate funding source will be beneficial. 
  • No funding is requested for non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, the preference is for these costs to be covered by the financial co-contribution and in-kind support.
  • Not attributing the applications non-project overheads to the project or charging an administration fee- these are best provided to the project as an in-kind contribution.
  • Identifying any interstate or international travel in the budget. These will be considered by the delegate.
  • Applicants that are planning to deliver the project to or with a group of NT Indigenous people need should demonstrate acceptance through letters of support.
Specific advice: Purchase of vehicles and equipment

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claims as to the benefit of the vehicle and/or equipment for Indigenous people in the NT. This may need the context of the benefit of project or programme that the vehicle or equipment will support being outlined.
  • Strong claims regarding the need for vehicle and/or equipment for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed:
    • For businesses this will include explanation as to why the provision of funding is sought over leasing or lending.
    • For service providers this will include explanation as to why the provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding, including using program funds to lease a vehicle or equipment.
  • Demonstrated capacity for procuring, managing and replacing the vehicle or equipment. Note if the funding request is over $250,000 then:
    • For service providers: A vehicle or equipment management plan can substitute the need for a project management plan. This plan will outline use, management, maintenance as well as how replacement will be addressed.
    • For businesses: If the funding request is over $250,000 and the vehicle or equipment is for a business then a business plan is required.
  • For businesses: The viability of the business must be independently verified by IBA. Applicants cannot refer to previous assessments or engagements with IBA or other business advisory services. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • Quotes – less than 12 months old, note quotes must be formal and should include delivery costs.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • Applicants under $250,000 can enhance their application by submitting a vehicle or equipment management plan that outlines use, management, maintenance as well as replacement.
  • Acknowledge acceptance that the vehicle and/or equipment maybe covered by the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) or through a purposes deed.
  • Local procurement of vehicles and equipment including preference for Indigenous suppliers
  • Transparency of the use of the funds from disposing of any current vehicles and/or equipment.
Specific advice: Research

It is important to note that the preference to fund projects that produce tangible outcomes.

Specific advice: Rangers

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Rangers ongoing and capital costs are covered by the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) as a result they are not eligible for ABA funding.
Specific advice: Stores, museums, arts and cultural centres

Stores, museums, arts and cultural centres have the ability to generate revenue and are generally regarded as businesses.

Advice on the key requirements:

  • Strong claim as to the benefit of the project for Indigenous people in the NT.
  • Strong claim regarding the need for business for Indigenous people in the NT and demonstration as to why ABA grant funding is needed, including explanation as to why the provision of funding is not the responsibility of mainstream funding, leasing or lending.
  • Demonstrated capacity for delivering the project. Note if the request is over $250,000 a business plan will be required to demonstrate capacity.
  • The viability of the business must independently verified by IBA. Applicants cannot refer to previous assessments or engagements with IBA or other business advisory services. Allow at least 10 working days, call ABA on 1800 354 612 if you have issues with the timeframe.
  • If the business uses a premises or needs to access land (e.g. collecting art materials) then a statement as to why land tenure or access rights will not inhibited the project will need to be made.
  • Quotes – less than 12 months old.

Advice on the preference of the round:

  • All new (start-up) applicants engaged with IBA or a similar source of business support to develop their application. To find out more call ABA on 1800 354 612.
  • The grants funding will expand the applicants benefit to Aboriginal people in the NT and it will not substitute the applicants’ responsibility for maintaining assets and setting aside funds for replacing equipment.
  • The applicant demonstrates commitment to the business by making a financial co-contribution. An in-kind commitment is also beneficial but should not be presented as a substitute.
  • No funding is requested for non-Indigenous employment or non-Indigenous consultancy. If these costs are essential, the preference is for these costs to be covered by the financial co-contribution and in-kind support.
  • Many businesses portray the benefit of their project as being increased Indigenous employment. Business applications may wish to enhance their application by developing an Indigenous Employment Plan.
  • The applicant is aware that grants funding can have tax implications for businesses.
  • Applicants that are planning to deliver the project to or with a group of NT Aboriginal people need should demonstrate acceptance through letters of support.
How to apply

Step 1

Read the information under the 'Who can Apply' expandable menu above.

Step 2

Read the 'specific advice' related to your type of project in the expandable menus above.

Step 3

Contact the ABA team on any business day of the year to talk through you proposal prior to starting your application.

Step 4

Read the ABA Application Kit before starting your application form. The application kit is based on the ABA Guidelines.

Note: if there is a discrepancy in the information provided, the ABA Grant Guidelines should be referred to as the primary source of information.  

Step 5

Prepare your proposed budget for the life of the project using the proposed budget template. Note: Formal quotes less than 12 months old will be required and attached to the application.

Step 6

Prepare your attachments:

  • Business Plan (for business applications over $250,000).
  • Project Management Plan (for non-business applications over $250,000).
  • IBA response to your proposal form (for business applicants).
  • ILC response to your proposal form (for land acquisition and agriculture applicants).
  • Quotes 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 dependant applications).

Step 7

Complete the online application form.

Step 8

Allow a minimum of 14 weeks for your application to be considered and be aware the Department will contact the primary person nominated in the application form.

Need assistance: Contact the ABA team on 1800 354 612 or aba@network.pmc.gov.au

Note: If you do not have internet access, call the ABA Team for assistance.

How are applications assessed?
  • The Department assesses every compliant application received by the closing date.
  • The Department 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 project agreement with the Department. You will need to meet the conditions included in your agreement. The Grant Agreement template 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.
Outcome of previous round and ABAAC Communique

A list of organisations recommended for funding in previous funding rounds is available:

ABAAC communiques

At the end of each meeting ABAAC develop a communique, which is also called the ABAAC message.

Back to Resource Centre