The Great Barrier Reef: One of the seven wonders of the natural world, and the biggest wonder of the Australian grant-application world

The Great Barrier Reef, being one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and being the only living thing on earth visible from space, can now add being the recipient of the biggest ever Australian government grant to its list of accolades.

Whilst this surprise allocation of taxpayer money to a small charity may not be visible from space, all of Australia took notice of the transaction when it hit the news that the decision was made in a private meeting between prime minister Turnbull, the environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation chairman, John Schubert. And without there even being meeting minutes to show how this decision was reached in just one afternoon.

For those of you that have never applied for a government grant it is good to know that the average public funding application for any other organization is generally at least one month, and can stretch to almost a year, depending on the nature of the grant and the amount of funding involved.

A typical government funding application process looks something like this:

  1. Identify a pre-existing government incentive which fulfils a public need
  2. Ensure that the applicant organisation meets the funding eligibility criteria
  3. Prepare both the application form as well as the supporting documentation required, generally involving project descriptions, business plans, competitor research, expenditure calculations, budget allocations, etc.
  4. Appear before a panel to argue the validity of the request, taking into account the applicant’s ability to deliver on the incentive’s requirements
  5. Upon award, comply with the ongoing reporting to ensure that the taxpayer money is spent as stipulated in the agreement.

Why did the Great Barrier Reef Foundation get exempted from this rigorous process?  Our guess is as good as yours.

That said, if you have a project that you think might qualify for government funding and you can’t lock in an afternoon meeting with PM Turnbull, then please email our team at  We will probably recommend that you apply for government funding in a slightly more conventional manner.

Full disclosure: We cannot get you a $444M grant in a single afternoon.  However, you will be able to sleep easy knowing that any funding success won’t be a front-page scandal across the nation’s newspapers.

Article written by:

Dave Corbin, Managing Director at Catalyst Solutions ASPAC

Ayla Kremb, Fundraising Specialist at Catalyst Solutions ASPAC

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