Future of the Aboriginal Community Development Fund

MACH Energy Australia oversees commitments relating to the Aboriginal Community Development Fund (ACDF). The Fund was amongst the community benefits identified in 2005 as part of a Native Title Agreement with the Wonnarua People, as represented by Victor Perry. MACH Energy welcomes the opportunity this provides for us to make a meaningful contribution to the sustainability and well-being of Aboriginal communities in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Established in 2006, the ACDF had a starting fund of $500k, which is indexed against CPI each year.  Since that time, the Fund has invested more than $4M into projects that benefit Upper Hunter Valley Aboriginal communities. Funds not allocated at the end of each calendar year are transferred to a Future Fund.  The existing Fund expires in 2026.

The ACDF committee continues to meet regularly to review submissions made for funding support and monitor the progress and benefits of existing partnerships.  MACH Energy representatives form part of the committee to administer funds and manage partnerships.

The Fund seeks to support partnerships that target issues, needs and opportunities which are priorities for local Aboriginal communities in areas such as health; economic development; cultural and community development and education.

Key partnerships in 2016

Name Benefits
Many Rivers Microfinance (2015-2017)


A not-for-profit microenterprise organisation which assists Indigenous and other Australians to establish and develop small businesses.
Gundi Programme – St Helier’s Correctional Centre



Launched in mid-2011 with the aim of helping Indigenous inmates gain trade skills while in custody and secure jobs post release.  Through funding from Housing NSW and Corrections NSW the project builds culturally appropriate housing for remote Aboriginal communities, provides building qualifications and work experience for inmates whilst in custody and supports them towards employment upon release.
Muswellbrook South School – Warrae Wanni School Readiness Program



A school readiness programme for children 3-5 years that is instilling the value of early education and preparing Aboriginal children and their families for entry to kindergarten. The programme commenced in 2010 – since then, participant numbers have increased significantly, results have been impressive and the programme is working effectively with the Parents and Learning programme (another ACDF funded partnership).
Polly Farmer Foundation – Enrichment Centre 



Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation assists aspirational Aboriginal students who have the capacity to complete school, but potentially in the absence of additional support are unlikely to do so. Project staff work closely with students to provide them with intensive and targeted support throughout their secondary schooling.
Parents and Learning (PAL)


The Parents and Learning Program (PaL) builds capacity in Indigenous communities by supporting parents to become engaged in their children’s learning, especially in the development of early literacy and numeracy skills. PaL kits are provided to parents who are taught to use the kits as well as techniques to encourage full engagement of their children in their learning.

Who can apply?

Applications may be made by members of the Upper Hunter Valley Aboriginal community who can demonstrate they have been a resident within the Shires of Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter for a minimum of three years.  Applications can also be made by service providers, organisations or groups who undertake work for the benefit of Aboriginal people living in these locations.

As a guide, eligible applicants are regarded as those who:

  • Can demonstrate they can make effective use of the funds
  • Are willing and able to measure the performance of the project
  • Can work in partnership with the ACDF

Only one application per year can be made by an individual or organisation.

Mandatory criteria:

  • Show how the project/proposal will target identified needs, issues and/or opportunities for Upper Hunter Valley Aboriginal communities or target groups
  • Outline the experience and skills of the organisation or person who will manage the project/proposal
  • Highlight any financial or in kind support the project/proposal has received
  • Demonstrate measurement of progress and outcomes of the project proposal
  • If funding is for business development opportunities, detail the benefit for the broader community, for example, the number of jobs created. For education or training highlight the potential employment opportunities
  • Provide two written personal or business references
  • If the funding is intended to benefit an individual, applicants must provide ‘Confirmation of Aboriginality’ (or similar)

Optional criteria

In addition, applicants should attempt to address the following in their application:

  • Detail any research that has been done on the viability of the proposal, how the proposal will be implemented and expected outcomes
  • Detail how the project will be sustained once ACDF funding is finished
  • Highlight any other groups or sections of the community currently supporting the proposal
  • Any other information that may strengthen your application and that the ACDF may find useful

Factors to consider

Applicants cannot apply for funding of:

  • Native title matters
  • Cultural heritage management matters
  • Purchase of major capital items such as cars and major items of plant or equipment
  • Permanent positions
  • Interstate or overseas travel
  • Issues to be dealt with or considered by legal process
  • Private business or company

Overarching funding themes

Funding may be provided for projects that support the following areas of interest.


  • Targeted/innovative community health programmes and initiatives
  • Grants to individuals in specific circumstances to support health and well-being
  • Sporting programmes/initiatives and sponsorship of specific events
  • Targeted health and well-being programmes in schools

Economic development

  • Business development (new and existing), including business planning, marketing plans, financial management
  • Training for individuals or job seekers in specific circumstances
  • Employment strategies/programmes which demonstrate strong potential to create/sustain employment for Aboriginal people

Community and cultural development

  • Sponsorship of significant local events/celebration, e.g. NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week, Wupa@Wanaruah Art and Cultural Event
  • Local programmes or projects which will deliver tangible and lasting cultural or community development benefits
  • Cultural programmes in local schools


  • Targeted education programmes in local schools
  • Secondary school or tertiary study assistance

For more information about the ACDF or to discuss an application, contact Ngaire Baker at ngaire.baker@machenergyaustralia.com.au or call 1800 886 889.