Typically the HSF provides project grants up to A$30,000 per year for up to three years. Grants are awarded to Australian institutions for activities within Australia. Occasionally activities located in countries of the south west Pacific may also be funded.

Applications from students as project leaders are not accepted.

Grants are made in annual instalments, and payments are dependent upon the receipt of satisfactory annual reports and financial statements. An additional initial progress report is required after the first six months of the project. Salaries of technicians and research assistants may be supported, but grants do not cover the salaries of scientific research staff or stipends of students. Administrative overheads are not funded.

Project leaders may submit only one application to each round and may not hold more than one grant concurrently. Project leaders are expected to devote an appropriate amount of time to projects supported by the Foundation.

The next round of applications will open on 20 January 2020 and will close at 5.00pm on March 6 2020, for new grants beginning in July 2020. Please note that applications will only be received online from this website. To submit an application you must first register by clicking here. This page provides further guidelines and details of how to apply.

Selection Criteria

When assessing applications, the Research Committee considers the following criteria:


Conformity with the Foundation's guidelines as presented on this web site (see above), including that the project will be undertaken within Australia or countries of the south west Pacific region, under the umbrella of a university or other appropriate institution; that funding will be limited to no more than three years and A$30,000 annually, and that salaries for research scientists and stipends for students are available from other sources.

The project forms an identifiable element of work that would not be undertaken without the support of the Foundation. If the project is a sub-project of a larger investigation it must be sufficiently discrete for the outputs and outcomes to be independently evaluated. (Projects that may be seminal to subsequent larger grants from other sources are attractive to the Foundation.)

The project is in the biological or biophysical sciences or has application in those areas, as exemplified in projects described on this web site, and is not medical research.

The components of the project budget for which funds are sought from the Foundation must be justified — both travel and equipment for which funding is sought must be essential for this project.

The Foundation does not fund costs associated with attendance at conferences, either domestic or international. Publlication costs levied by scientific journals are not supported by the Foundation.


Competition for new grants continues to increase. This is reflected in the continually improving quality of applications and in the number of applications received. The following table details total applications, grants awarded and the success rate over the past 5 years:

2015 124 14 11.3
2016 106 8 7.5
2017 112 12 10.7
2018 117 10 8.5
2019 89 10 11.2

The efforts made by applicants are greatly appreciated and the Foundation is acutely aware of the time taken in the preparation of applications. Therefore, in order to minimize time lost in preparing applications that are not likely to be successful in an extremely competitive research environment prospective applicants are reminded of the criteria to which the Research Committee gives priority:

  • The scientific merit of the application and its likelihood of cost-effective delivery against the stated objectives and outcomes remain paramount. Scientific merit is judged by peer review of the quality of the background information, the logic of the proposal and the experimental design. Applications may be improved in these respects if they have been critiqued by professional colleagues prior to submission.
  • The likelihood of a successful outcome is assessed against the relevance of the application, the quality of science on which it is based and the qualifications and track-record of the principal investigator(s). In assessing track-record the Research Committee gives full recognition to applicants who may be comparatively new to research but who have relatively impressive performances in publishing in quality journals and/or who have demonstrably superior applied outputs and outcomes for the time they have been researchers.
  • The need to encourage capacity building is also acknowledged.

When formulating its recommendations for the Trustees, the Research Committee particularly favours activities that seem likely to lead to improved systems of managing land, water, plants and animals in ways which will enhance the productivity and quality of food, fisheries, plants and forests, while simultaneously conserving the natural environment, preserving biodiversity, avoiding pollution of soils and water, and enhancing human welfare.


Mortality of pups of the endangered Australian sea lion is being studied in this HSF-supported project. Learn more HERE.