If you are feeling unwell and think you may have COVID-19 symptoms, contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 (Freecall). Official information about COVID-19 from the NSW Government. Resources and information on support for Aboriginal people can be found at the COVID-19 and Aboriginal Communities – Essential Information page.

2022 Closing The Gap Strengthening Business Capability Grants (CLOSED)

The Closing the Gap Aboriginal Strengthening Business Capability Grants Program aims to increase the number of NSW operating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses winning NSW Government contracts, selling goods and services to the NSW Government and/or expanding. This will contribute to improved employment outcomes, business growth and economic prosperity for Aboriginal people in NSW. 

Important dates

Applications open 9am Tuesday, 22 February 2022. 

Applications close 5pm Monday, 4 April 2022. 

View the Closing the Gap Strengthening Business Capability Grants Webinar replay here

Projects must be delivered by recipients between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 (this will be a condition of grant funding). 

Applicants can only apply once.


22 February 2022 
Applications Open 
4 April 2022 
Applications Close 
Late March - mid May 2022 
Assessment and approval of applications 
Late May - early June 2022
Successful and unsuccessful applicants notified
Mid-late June 2022 
Funds released 
Beginning July 2022 
Projects commence no earlier than 1 July 2022
30 June 2023
Projects completed no later than 30 June 2023
August 2022 – July 2023 
Project reporting and financial acquittals  

Program Overview

The Closing the Gap NSW Implementation Plan commits to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW to access pathways, through education, training and employment, which align with their aspirations and support their businesses to grow and flourish. 

The Closing the Gap Aboriginal Business Grants program provides one-off grants to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. 

You should read the program documentation on the Aboriginal Affairs NSW website before starting an application and contact Aboriginal Affairs NSW if you need more information.

Program Objectives

The Closing the Gap Strengthening Business Capability Grants program aims
to achieve the following objectives:

  • Grow the capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses operating in NSW to win NSW Government contracts
  • Increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses selling goods and services to the NSW Government
  • Scale-up and diversify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to establish business opportunities with the NSW Government.

Who can apply for funding? 

To be eligible for a Closing the Gap Strengthening Business Capabilities Grant, all applicants must be an Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander business and satisfy the following criteria:

  • Majority Aboriginal owned and/or run
  • Have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in NSW or demonstrate your business was primarily operating in NSW as at 1 January 2022

Applicants applying under the Scale-up and Accelerate stream must also have:

  • operated their business for at least 12 months, based on date of ABN registration
  • a combined annual turnover of less than $20 million for each of the previous 3 financial years
  • a scalable solution or offering that is relevant to the NSW Government procurement marketplace
  • a profit and loss statement for the last 12 months or the previous financial year (additional financial statements may be requested to determine turnover eligibility)

You are not eligible to apply if you are:

  • an income tax exempt corporation
  • a trust (however, an incorporated trustee may apply on behalf of a trust)
  • Federal, State and Local Government agency and/or body, including a Government business enterprise

What can I apply for? 

Funding will be available to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses operating in NSW for projects that will strengthen the capability those businesses to win NSW Government contracts, sell goods and services to the NSW Government and/or grow their business.

The following are the  types of activities that may be funded. Your project does not need to be limited by these examples.

Stream 1: Strengthening Capabilities – up to $50,000

This stream provides practical support to businesses and addresses barriers to winning NSW Government contracts and selling goods and services to the NSW Government, including:

Examples of Eligible Projects
Business Foundations
  • Business planning and feasibility studies
  • Developing capability statements
  • Creating and developing corporate governance structures
  • Developing strategic plans, organisational vision and strategy
  • Compliance with sector-specific governance and insurance standards
  • Buying or leasing equipment
  • Building marketing materials and digital marketing capability
  • Investment and creation of a learning and development budget, including but not limited to:
  • Coaching leaders on business development approaches and being procurement ready
  • Employee training
  • Pivoting to online delivery
  • E-commerce development
  • Market research
  • Creating a  cash management plan
  • Investment in efficient integrated accounting and/or business support software (such as LivePlan)
  • External evaluation of business needs versus strategy
Strengthening connections to Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations
  • Funds are available to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to partner with and strengthen the capability of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations to address barriers and secure NSW Government funding, including (not limited to):
  • Establish a community business partnership to develop or market a product or service
  • Development of a joint investment model to increase production capability
  • Formalise supply agreements with Aboriginal community organisations and local businesses
  • Support the transition of an ACCO into a social enterprise
Grow stronger relationships and networks
  • Funding to create procurement or supply chain-focused networks to promote the capability and diversity of Aboriginal businesses:
  • Formalise sub-contracting partnership between sole trader and construction companies
  • Establish or promote industry specific, regional or local business networks
  • Host workshops or meet the buyer events, with buyers bringing current and upcoming projects that are available for tender
  • Create targeted marketing campaigns promoting Aboriginal businesses

Stream 2: Scale-up and Accelerate – up to $200,000

To provide funding for established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses operating in NSW that require an investment to scale-up or diversify and improve competitiveness in order to win contracts and supply goods and/or services to the NSW Government.  

Examples of Eligible Projects
Increase access to finances
  • Purchase  equipment, assets or services that improve efficiency or capability
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Larger scale business planning
  • Learning and development for employees and owners
  • Prepare to be investment ready


Funding can be used for:

Eligible activities are:

  • broad in nature and will vary between organisations
  • Must assist to strengthen capability of the business to be competitive and secure NSW Government contracts and sell goods and services to the NSW Government
  • May involve services or advice from service providers external to the business or by those who are currently not employed by the business applying
  • May involve purchasing or leasing equipment
  • Not listed as an ineligible activity.

Funding cannot be used for

  • Capital works, including building, construction, renovations, housing-related costs or the purchase of land.
  • Purchase of vehicles.
  • Wages, salaries and on-costs for ongoing staff.
  • International travel costs. Proposals for domestic travel costs need to demonstrate the benefits of travel to the project, organisation, and community.
  • Activities that may create an ongoing dependency on Closing the Gap Grant funding, i.e. funding over multiple years.
  • Costs that are not directly associated with the delivery of the project that is funded by the grant.
  • Project costs that are supported by another grant, subsidy or financial assistance.
  • Project costs incurred prior to earliest possible project start date of 1 July 2022 (no retrospective funding will be awarded)
  • Cost to cover existing debts or budget deficits
  • General operational costs

How to apply 

Applications are to be completed online at the Aboriginal Affairs NSW online grants platform.

Apply Now Apply Now

Please note, applications will not be accepted by other channels. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to allow sufficient time to submit applications using the online system, including allowing for unexpected delays.

Applicants can only apply once.

Applicants can choose to submit a video response to application questions on project objectives and outcomes. Contact Officers are available to support applicants with recording and preparing a file for upload, if required.

Applications must be submitted by 5pm Monday, 4 April 2022. Late applications will not be accepted or considered unless Aboriginal Affairs NSW, in its sole discretion, determines that it is in the interests of the fairness of the program to accept the late application.

This may include that an applicant has experienced exceptional circumstances that prevented the submission of the application that were:

  • reasonably unforeseeable
  • beyond the applicant’s control
  • unable to be managed or resolved within the application period.

Exceptional circumstances will be considered on their merits and in accordance with probity principles. If your organisation is affected by exceptional circumstances, it is in your interest to contact Aboriginal Affairs NSW to advise them of the circumstances as soon as possible and be able to provide detail and evidence of the exceptional circumstance.

The applicant will be advised of the outcome of their project application by late May-early June 2022.

Unsuccessful applicants will be offered a feedback session, if required.

Assessment criteria and process

This is a competitive grants program. Applications will be assessed against the criteria and ranked competitively. Applications with the highest scores are more likely to be funded. 

All applications will be screened for eligibility. Ineligible applicants will be notified in writing. Eligible applications will be assessed by a panel comprising senior Aboriginal Affairs NSW employees and external experts in Aboriginal business capability and growth, based on the assessment criteria.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs is the final decision-maker and will consider the recommendations of the assessment panel in making a decision. 

Aboriginal Affairs NSW staff may request further advice and/or clarification from applicants at any time during the assessment process.

If there is a high demand or where the application includes some ineligible activities or budget items, applicants may be offered only part of the funding sought in their application. 

Independent probity advisers will provide guidance on issues concerning integrity, fairness and accountability that may arise throughout the application, assessment and decision process. This will ensure decisions are made with integrity, fairness and accountability, while delivering value for money for NSW.

Assessment Criteria

Applications will be assessed by the panel based on the following criteria:

What are we looking for?
Evidence of how the project will strengthen capability longer-term and competitiveness of your business to win contracts and sell goods and services to NSW Government.
It is clear expenditure of the funding will contribute to the project outcomes.

Demonstrated project planning
Explanation of what the funding will do, how it will be spent, and how the project meets the program aims and objectives.

Evidence your business has experience managing previous projects.
Evidence demonstrating relevant training and experience of key staff involved in the project.
Value/Viability Evidence your business is financially viable.
A realistic and accurate budget that represents value for money.
It is clear how funding will contribute to the project outcomes.

See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information on the criteria.


Program Guidelines

Stream 1 Step-by-step guide for applicants 

Stream 2 Step-by step guide for applicants 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Budget guide

Other important information 

COVID-19 impacts

Due to the changing impacts of COVID-19 across NSW, projects must be in line with NSW Government public health orders and advice, for example with regard to social distancing and public gatherings. Up to date information is available here.

If COVID-19 rules in NSW change during the grants period, Aboriginal Affairs NSW may request further information from you on how you propose to manage COVID-19 risks for your project.

Funding arrangements and reporting

Successful applicants will be required to:

  • Enter into a Funding Agreement with Aboriginal Affairs NSW within two weeks of the offer being made.
  • Start and complete funded activities and events by the dates specified in the Funding Agreement.
  • Notify Aboriginal Affairs NSW of any proposed changes to your funded activity.
  • Acknowledge the support of Aboriginal Affairs NSW in accordance with the Funding Acknowledgement Guidelines insert hyperlink to grant program website.
  • Report on outcomes from the activity and acquit the grant within 21 days of project completion. Evidence to support this can be uploaded in SmartyGrants. Applicants may be asked for proof of expenditure (copies of invoices and receipts) as well as photos, media coverage, links to video clips, etc., where relevant, so must retain for their records. If the acquittal is not completed within the required timeframe you will be ineligible to apply for Aboriginal Affairs NSW grants for the following two years.

Disclosure of information

Information relating to successful applications will be included in:

  • public media releases
  • an announcement on the Aboriginal Affairs NSW website
  • Aboriginal Affairs NSW social media.

This information may include the name of the applicant and their business, a description of the funded project and the funding amount.

Applicants should be aware that information provided to Aboriginal Affairs NSW may be made publicly available under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW). Information may also be made publicly available as a result of an order for papers made by the NSW Legislative Council under Standing Order 52. 

Before information is released in response to an application under the GIPA Act, there will be an assessment of the public interest considerations in favour of and against disclosure of that information and there may be consultation requirements that apply. 

Any Aboriginal Cultural or Intellectual Property submitted in an application remains the property of the relevant community organisation or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and will be dealt with in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural and Intellectual Property Protocol which is available here


Every effort has been made to ensure that this publication is free from error and/or omission at the date of publication. The authors, publisher and any person involved in the preparation of this publication take no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of information contained herein. 

Support and contacts

Contact Officers are available to answer questions regarding the Aboriginal Affairs NSW Closing the Gap Strengthening Business Capability Grants.

Telephone: 1800 019 998

Email: grants@aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au

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