Curious Australia  Initiative 2020/21, funding, images
Curious Australia  Initiative 2020/21, funding, images

Curious Australia Initiative 2020/21

Curious Australia is a joint initiative between Screen Australia, SBS and NITV, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screenwest, Screen Tasmania, South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Queensland and Screen Territory to produce exciting and innovative documentaries for SBS and NITV platforms. 

This initiative aims to support practitioners from under-represented backgrounds and projects that reflect gender equity and/or the diversity of people and experiences from around Australia, all of which are important culturally, creatively and economically. 

For the purposes of this initiative we recognise ‘Under-represented Backgrounds’ as: those identifying as First Nations Australians; women; those with diverse age backgrounds; people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people living with disability; people from Western Sydney; people of diverse sexuality and gender identities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQIA+); people from under-represented locations (including regional and remote areas); and people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.  

Up to thirteen documentaries will be commissioned as part of this strand to be broadcast on SBS On Demand, SBS Viceland and SBS & NITV. 

The applications closing date is 5pm Monday 9th August​



Guidelines can be downloaded from the documents box on the right-hand-side of the screen.

All applications must be received through the Screen NSW online grants administration system, Smarty Grants. 

The application form can be found here.

Please subscribe to our e-News or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates about our programs.

For more information contact Andrea Ulbrick 0436 664 033 or by email to if you would like to discuss your proposed project.


Image: Video clip shoot for 'I’m Wanita' - Location: Tamworth Town Hall ​- Photo Credit: Patrick Boland

What can I apply for?

Eligible projects must be unscripted documentaries that reflect the SBS charter. Projects must be focussed on contemporary Australian issues and promise to be compelling and engaging. Projects must be achievable within budget and suitable for the target audience in accordance with the SBS Codes of Practice and SBS Editorial Guidelines. 

Specifically, we are looking for: 

  • Unscripted documentary projects suitable for SBS On Demand, SBS Viceland and for those relevant projects, NITV.
  • An awareness of who the project is for and why it is relevant for this audience.
  • Unique stories that add to the cultural landscape of Australian content
  • Stand-alone documentaries suitable for half hour television slot (22mins)
  • Authentic stories that will engage and enlighten
  • Projects which can be ready for production in the new financial year

Decisions on production funding will be made and announced by 6 August 2021.  

Who can apply?

Curious Australia is targeted at emerging to mid-career creators working on lower-budget, exciting and risk-taking projects. 

Applicant teams must consist of at least two key creatives from underrepresented groups. For the purposes of the Curious Australia initiative, key creative roles are defined as: Producer, Director, Writer, Editor, DOP. Other key roles will be considered if a strong case is made. 

To be eligible for NITV/SBS co-productions, teams must adhere to NITV’s requirement that 2 out of 3 key creatives must identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island peoples. 

Applicant teams must consist of at least a director and a producer, one of whom has at least one screen credit in their respective role on a project that has been broadcast and/or screened at a recognised film festival or distributed on a significant curated online platform. Applicants must also meet the general eligibility requirements set out in their relevant screen agency Terms of Trade and Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade. 

Please note that while you can be attached to more than one project under the Curious Australia initiative, we strongly recommend you carefully consider which project or projects are best suited to your skill set when choosing your applicant team. 


Each documentary should be working to an indicative budget of $120,000* based on the following: 

  • SBS/NITV                $55,000 
  • Screen Agency        $50,000 
  • Screen Australia      $15,000 

Applicants may include additional funding through private investment or philanthropy, but those funds must be confirmed and/or underwritten at the time of application in order for contracting to commence as soon as projects are selected. 

*If an EP/Mentor is required that will be an additional cost determined at the time of selection and will be provided on top of the indicative budget.

How and when can I apply?

Applications close COB 5pm Monday 9th August and can be made through your relevant screen agency portal. Application materials and information will be made available to SBS and Screen Australia as part of the assessment process.

Applicants will need to provide:

  • A completed Application Form
  • 1 page treatment 
  • Detailed outline/shooting script 
  • Supporting reel (either character reel or sizzle) maximum duration 3 mins 
  • Supporting evidence of any significant relevant access required (ie. if an ob doc in a hospital, a letter confirming access to said hospital is required)  
  • CV’s of the key creatives and team involved and their past experience creating content
SBS First and Last Rights:

In applying for the ‘Curious Australia’ initiative, the Applicant (s) agree and acknowledge that a condition of being selected for the initiative is that Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS) and/or NITV has an Exclusive First and Last Right to acquire on standard SBS terms all Free Communication Rights in Australia in respect of their project. Key rights include Worldwide Premiere, Free Television for 8 runs and FVOD/AVOD for a licence period of 5 years as more fully outlined in the SBS/NITV Presale. 

Funding Terms:

Funding will be provided as grant. 

  • Successful applicants will enter into a separate written Agreement with Screen Australia, SBS/NITV and the relevant screen agency, specifying the terms of the funding and what the applicant will need to deliver to receive their scheduled payments. 
  • Applicants must detail how they plan to utilise local crew and the amount to be spent in the relevant state or territory. 
  • Recipients are required to provide a written acquittal report detailing the outcomes achieved as a result of funding. Aspects of these may be published following consultation with the applicant. 
  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain and keep current, all necessary permissions, permits, insurances and Chain of Title documentation for the development, production and exploitation of the Project. Screen Australia, SBS and NITV and/or the relevant screen agency, reserves the right to sight and approve the above at any time, upon written request to the Producer. 
Assessment criteria:

Each eligible application will be assessed taking into consideration the below criteria: 

  • The creative strength of the project, and its ability to successfully engage the relevant audience 
  • The track record of the key team members and the likelihood that this program will develop their skills 
  • The standard of the supplied creative deliverables 
  • The alignment of the team and project with the diversity and inclusivity aims of the initiative and with the SBS Charter, SBS Codes of Practice and Editorial Guidelines 


Applications will be assessed by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV and the relevant screen agency. 


Applications Open: 2 June 2021 

  • Applications Close: 5pm Monday 9th August
  • Successful Projects notified: 2021 
  • Complete projects delivered to SBS/NITV:Mid April 2022

Screen Australia, SBS and the screen agencies acknowledge and appreciate the effort that goes into applications, however given the anticipated volume of applications will not be able to provide individual feedback on each individual application.

Who should I contact about my application?

If you would like to provide us with feedback or you need more information about the Industry Development Program or to discuss your proposed project, contact Andrea Ulbrick on 0436 664 033 or by email to

For further information contact:
Development & Production