April 30 2021

Grants Round Up April 2021

By The Ian Potter Foundation

White two-storey building in federation style
Ian Potter House at ANU. Image courtesy of the Australian Academy of Science.

In the first funding round for 2021, the Foundation has awarded 32 grants totalling $9,478,790.  These comprised $4,018,340 across 12 grants in Arts; $2,555,450 across 6 grants in Public Health Research; $1,445,000 towards 10 Medical Research grants; two Community Wellbeing grants totalling $900,000; one Major grant of $500,000, and one $10,000 Impact Enhancement grant.

Below we highlight some of the grants awarded in this round.

Vibrant Pillar – Arts

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
PROJECT: ACCA Digital Wing: A new digital platform for contemporary art programming, commissioning and publishing
$300,000 over 3 years

This capacity-building grant will enable ACCA to build its digital presence by developing a new online platform dedicated to digitally native artistic programming and publishing.  ACCA’s intended core outcomes from this initiative are supporting artists to create new and contemporary work; engaging audiences; and strengthening their international profile, in turn leading to opportunities for partnership and exchange.

This proposal represents a genuine move toward a hybrid museum model that ACCA is calling its ‘Digital Wing’, building on what ACCA learned through their innovative digital commissions' program in 2020.

Western Edge Youth Arts Inc
PROJECT: Level Up: Western Edge Youth Arts’ Professional Development Program
$225,000 over 3 years

This grant supports Western Edge Youth Arts (WEYA) to expand a current pilot to a permanent professional development program. Level Up will engage cohorts of six young artists in a three-year cycle.  Using their networks through Melbourne’s west, WEYA will select participants aged 18 and over to establish their ensemble, dubbed Sub30 Collective. 

During the three-year cycle, participants will focus on exploring fundamental skills in performance and storytelling, attend masterclasses with professional artists covering creative practice and industry skills; work in-residence at a professional arts organisation to produce a new work and undertake a year-long mentorship with an industry professional. In the final year, participants become members of the WEYA alumni community, meeting at monthly salons to share work-in-progress, discuss opportunities, and share their learnings. For artists in the west, there are few places to meet each other, unlike other parts of inner Melbourne there is not the same dense network of cultural and creative institutions. 

The aim of providing these opportunities is to create links to other organisations that may be able to provide participants with employment or secondments to extend their careers beyond WEYA. 

PROJECT: Stories from Another Australia
$190,000 over 3 years

Co-Curious is a theatre and screen development organisation located in Western Sydney and led by Annabel Davis and Shakthi Shakthidharan. The company focuses on bringing new and emerging artistic voices to the fore and supporting those artists with access to an extensive career development program, including tailored mentorships, placements, and masterclasses in line with their desired pathway.

The Stories from Another Australia project will identify and develop 20 writers from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse or regional Australian backgrounds.  Co-Curious will work with the artists to produce original content and in partnership with industry experts and co-producing companies, develop their ideas into new works with the aim of bringing them to mainstage, broadcast or screen presentation.

This grant will also seed fund the development and roll-out of the Co-Curious' model into two other Australian states, South Australia and Victoria.

A New Approach
PROJECT: A New Approach: Core support for phase two of a national arts and culture think tank
$600,000 over 3 years

A New Approach (ANA) is Australia's first think tank dedicated to arts and culture.  ANA’s vision is for an Australia that celebrates, benefits from, and invests in arts, culture and creativity for the benefit of all Australians.

This capacity-building grant will assist ANA to continue to deliver evidence-led analysis and lead the public discussion on Australia’s arts and cultural landscape (via six reports over the next three years); generate new, topical research insights and translate them into practical pathways for action based on evidence; and continue to offer trusted and confidential counsel to key leaders, including relevant Ministers, their advisors and senior public servants.

To date, ANA has had strong support from the philanthropic sector including investment from The Myer Foundation, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and the Keir Foundation.  In 2021, this coalition has been joined by The Sidney Myer Fund, the Neilson Foundation, the Spinifex Trust, Minderoo Foundation, Aranday Foundation and the Besen Family Foundation.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Limited
PROJECT: Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s Digital Pivot Initiative
$950,000 over 3 years

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) provides an opportunity for collectors, commercial galleries, public institutions and the general public to meet and buy directly from Aboriginal Art Centres nationally.  Over the past six years, DAAF has generated over $13.6 million of sales with 100% of proceeds going directly back to artists and Centres.

In 2020 in response to COVID-19, DAAF went online for the first time. Building on the success of this digital pivot by DAAF, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) aims to consolidate and grow the digital platform, invest in digital capability for the Indigenous Arts Centre workforce and investigate the potential international markets for their digital offering.  Developing a national Indigenous art digital platform will allow DAAF to host a hybrid physical/digital event with online retail sales facilitated during the event itself; offer year-round curated content from member Art Centres; use the platform to host sales facilities for other Indigenous art fairs and link up with crucial authenticity verification and provenance databases to protect Indigenous artists.

This four-year capacity building grant will support sector development, provide professional development opportunities to Indigenous arts workers, and assist the expansion of the market for Australian Indigenous art.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
PROJECT: Strategic technology and digital mentoring for cultural organisations

The global pandemic has generated greater urgency within the arts sector to instigate and expand digital content offerings and invest in digital infrastructure. This has highlighted the need for additional skills and knowledge to support arts organisations in making crucial decisions in their digital pivot. To address this, the Foundation invited ACMI to develop a pilot mentoring initiative.  This grant supports an initial 6-month mentorship for six senior arts executives, overseen by an internationally recognised and experienced practitioner based at ACMI, to develop skills in the strategic use of digital technology.

ACMI will coordinate mentors, mentoring sessions, and assemble a shareable online library of resources for mentees to draw upon and for them to discuss issues with one another using a private online community tool, as well as organise the opening and closing in-person events.

While arts and cultural organisations may have trialled digital programs in 2020, this is a timely opportunity to ensure that relevant innovations are consolidated. Digital innovation is expensive and high risk and creates significant ongoing operational costs, so it is crucial for organisations to get it right. This is a cost-effective and efficient way of linking experts in digital technology and digital strategy to arts organisations.  

Fair Pillar – Community Wellbeing

First Australians Capital Ltd

PROJECT: First Australians Capital - Regenerating Indigenous Entrepreneurship
$600,000 over 3 years

First Australians Capital (FAC), an Indigenous-led organisation, provides a unique offering of concessional capital and capability support to Indigenous social-purpose enterprises and entrepreneurs. Supporting indigenous-led businesses helps build economic self-sufficiency within Indigenous communities and drive a new sustainable economy in Australia.  FAC targets high potential Indigenous entrepreneurs and enterprises at start-up and early-stage; where the need for support, particularly capital, is greatest and not met by existing financial services.

Since 2016 FAC has worked with over 450 Indigenous businesses which have generated 106 jobs for Indigenous Australians.   The vast majority (74%) have been small to medium enterprises employing 1 to 2 people.  However, FAC is now also focussing on larger businesses with the intent to help them to scale up their operations.

FAC is focused on providing economic independence to vulnerable individuals of the community through economic empowerment rather than welfare support. 

This grant will support FAC to maintain current operations, assisting staff to manage its growing client base and provide capacity development and enterprise support to Indigenous individuals and businesses in turn supporting their ambitions to grow their businesses and employ more vulnerable people.

Many Rivers Microfinance Ltd
PROJECT: Marketplace – Reimagining Indigenous Procurement
$300,000 over 3 years

Many Rivers Microfinance (Many Rivers) is a for-purpose organisation that provides Microenterprise Development (MED) and Community Economic Development (CED) support to Indigenous and other Australians who want to access the economy but lack the financial or practical support to do so.

Many Rivers commenced its operations in 2008 in Grafton NSW with its Microenterprise Development (MED) program and now has 38 Microenterprise Development Managers across all states.  To date, Many Rivers has supported 2,575 people to establish or develop 2,340 businesses.  The Community Economic Development (CED) program commenced in 2017 and now has 7 CED Managers supporting 21 Indigenous community organisations.

This three-year grant supports the trial of the Many Rivers Marketplace concept in southern QLD.  Marketplace aims to test a new method of building Indigenous business capability and reworking corporate procurement processes with the aim of increased spending from large corporate organisations to support small and medium Indigenous businesses; ultimately leading to increased employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

Many Rivers intends to prototype and experiment with the Marketplace concept at a small scale over the next 36 months.  Using the learnings from this proof-of-concept, Many Rivers plan to create a regional-specific Indigenous business supplier database based on proven, identified and upcoming scope areas; achieve better Indigenous business performance in the corporate tendering process and improve existing corporate Indigenous procurement processes. The aim is to create a new and powerful procurement system for Indigenous engagement and increase the value of Indigenous procurement.

Healthy Pillar – Medical Research

Queensland University of Technology
PROJECT: High-throughput microbial single-cell genomic facility 

This grant enables the purchase of a Zypher Automated Workstation and Formulatrix Mantis Liquid Handler to support the establishment of Australia’s first high-throughput microbial single-cell genomic facility (SCG). This equipment will allow researchers to eliminate manual handling and transform their existing single-cell genomics workflow into a high-throughput service platform while maintaining high-quality data and reducing the potential for contamination. 

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
PROJECT: High throughput Lipidomics Platform for improved clinical risk assessment and monitoring of cardiometabolic disease 

The Baker Institute has developed world-leading lipidomic profiling technology which classifies metabolic pathways and identifies lipidomic biomarker profiles to offer significant improvement on established clinical methods to assess risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. 

This grant will allow the Institute to translate this technology platform into a tool that provides fast, cost-effective lipidomic profiling to support large clinical and population lipidomic studies into cardiometabolic disease, resulting in improved risk assessment, monitoring and therapeutic efficacy for the major chronic diseases affecting Australians. 

Melbourne Health
PROJECT: Building Victoria’s ‘Virtual Biobank’, a vital resource for accelerating translational cancer research to therapeutic use. 

A Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB) consortium collaboration, this project aims to accelerate translational cancer research from target to therapeutic use by building a 'Virtual Biobank', with a focus on low-survival cancers. A digitised repository of biospecimens and associated metadata, a virtual biobank enables sharing of resources for the wider biomedical research community. 

This grant assists in the purchase of an automated high-throughput digital pathology scanning system (Aperio AT2) which will build the capability of Melbourne Health’s biobanking infrastructure to collect and store fit-for-purpose samples for emerging technologies supporting the ‘omics’ revolution; and to offer an open-access digital imaging service model for a wider group of cancer researchers. 

Healthy Pillar – Public Health Research

Macquarie University
PROJECT: Primary care screening tool to detect, prevent and treat mental health issues for older Australians 
$587,103 over 5 years

This project aims to develop a novel primary care screening tool, Wellbeing Check, to detect common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, in older adults.  Routine screening in primary care can reduce the under-detection and undertreatment of older adult mental disorders, as well as identify early risk factors for poor mental health, including loneliness, social isolation, and low social activity.  

This tool will couple results from the Wellbeing Check with recommended interventions, increasing access to evidence-based interventions.  It will also allow early detection and intervention for risk factors to help prevent mental disorders in this vulnerable age group.  The tool will be developed in consultation with older patients, clinicians and researchers to ensure its acceptability and feasibility for wider, sustained use.  The applicant will evaluate the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of this screening tool in a clinical trial in GP practices in the Sydney North Primary Health Network. 

La Trobe University, The Judith Lumley Centre 
PROJECT: Co-producing program materials for trauma-integrated perinatal care for Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future
$260,000 over 3 years

Healing the past by nurturing the future (HPNF) is a community-based participatory research project which aims to co-design awareness, recognition, assessment, and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents experiencing complex trauma during the perinatal period. 

Researchers at the Judith Lumley Centre (Centre), are undertaking a decade long research program to comprehensively co-design, co-develop, trial, implement and evaluate an evidence-informed intervention to address this complex issue. Building on four years of consultation and co-design engaging more than 500 stakeholders, this grant will assist the research team to deliver the fourth step: program development. The program will consist of a flexible suite of trauma learning resources for perinatal care providers; tailored experiential provider training to develop expertise and mentoring skills for working with Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma (trauma-champions); resources for mothers and fathers that incorporate Aboriginal knowledge to improve parenting and social and emotional wellbeing; a ‘wise counsel’ model for facilitating appropriate trauma-integrated support for Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma. 

The project team is highly collaborative with investigators from 11 institutions and six partner organisations including universities, medical research institutes and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

Australian National University
PROJECT: Optimising cardiovascular disease prevention for all Australians: Evidence and modelling for population-based screening and management 
$600,000 over 5 years

This project seeks to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality by substantially improving systematic detection of risk and prevention of heart attacks, stroke and other CVD. 

This grant supports the Research School of Population Health (ANU) team to work with national and international leaders to develop state-of-the-art versatile predictive models to generate evidence to guide policy and practice on CVD prevention for all Australians.  The modelling platform that will be used was developed by Cancer Council NSW and will be provided as in-kind, valued at $100k per annum. 

The main outcome from this project will be versatile high-quality CVD microsimulation models for the general and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations integrating the best available current evidence on CVD risk, prevention and management.  The microsimulation models will estimate numbers of CVD events, deaths and health-service use factors under different scenarios and will be used to compare different population-based preventive strategies, to inform policy and practice. 


Australian Academy of Science

Project: Ian Potter House Restoration
$500,000 over 4 years

In January 2020, the Academy’s two heritage-listed premises – Ian Potter House and The Shine Dome – sustained significant damage due to a severe hailstorm. 

Apart from needing repairs, Ian Potter House does not conform to current accessibility standards and is generally showing its age. The Academy is taking this opportunity to upgrade Ian Potter House to make it fit for purpose, accessible, and viable office space for the next 50 years.

Ian Potter House provides office space for Academy staff and contains meeting spaces for Fellows of the Academy and other science stakeholders.  The Academy is also including dedicated office space for the new Water Policy Centre – a joint initiative of the Foundation and 15 other philanthropic funders – in the refurbished Ian Potter House. 

Sir Ian and the Foundation have a long history of association with the Academy and with Ian Potter House.  From the mid-1950s, Ian Potter was closely involved with the development of the Australian Academy of Science, serving on the finance committee from 1965 until 1993, promoting the academy’s activities and giving significant financial support. In 1978, Sir Ian was appointed a Fellow of the Academy for ‘conspicuous service to the cause of science’, a rare honour for a non-scientist.


The full list of grants awarded in this round can be found in the Grants Database.

Please note: Some multi-year grants awarded by the Foundation may be subject to certain conditions being met prior to a pending grant payment being released.