Key dates 2024

2024 Community EOI applications open:

Monday 5 February 2024

EOIs close:

Tuesday 12 March 2024 6pm AEDT

Advisory Group reviews EOIs:

March 2024

Organisations advised of EOI outcomes:

Approx. April 2024

Organisations are paired with ACU researchers

Approx. June 2024

Project planning commences:

Approx. July 2024

We invite you to partner with us on a research project that has meaning for your organisation. Applications are welcome from organisations working for the social good, whether faith-based or secular. Here you will find information about the two kinds of EOIs you can submit, what is required of you to participate and tips for preparing your EOI.

EOI information session

If you are considering submitting an EOI to the SESU, an online information session will be available during the 2025 round of applications. The date and registration details will be advised closer to the date.

Apply for two kinds of projects

We understand there are various levels at which needs arise. Every organisation has specific priorities for its clients, programs and services. Large numbers of organisations might be facing the same systemic or ‘big’ issues present in areas of the community sector. At the same time, some issues might be narrower in focus and specific to a particular organisation or program. For this reason, our researchers work on two kinds of projects and produce high-quality outputs that reflect the nature of the project.


Apply to participate in a project nominated by the SESU’s Advisory Group or submit your own proposal for a project to address a systemic or ‘big’ issue which affects several organisations in the community sector.

Learn more


Submit a proposal for an organisation-specific research project to inform, shape, evaluate or grow your organisation’s programs or services, whether those activities be domestic or international in focus.

Learn more
We understand that identifying and putting your research needs to paper can sometimes be a tricky task. Below are some FAQs we have put together to help you understand SESU projects and complete your EOI.

Before you apply

  • Understand your organisation’s research needs and how they align with your organisation’s aims or current priorities. It can be helpful to speak to other relevant staff in your organisation to get a sense of your current research needs or bounce off ideas.
  • Learn about the purpose of the SESU and consider whether this kind of initiative has the potential to meet your organisation’s research needs.
  • Consider whether your organisation and the work it does is a good fit with ACU’s mission and values. Equally, consider whether ACU’s mission and values are a good fit for your organisation’s mission and values.
  • Ensure you are aware of the deadline for submission and consider whether you are able to write an EOI by the required deadline.
  • Before putting together your EOI, consider the principles guiding our Advisory Group when assessing EOIs. These can be found below in the FAQ ‘How are EOIs assessed?'.
  • Think about your organisation’s capacity to contribute to the project. You’ll be asked about this in the EOI form.

If you have questions, please get in contact with us at

The SESU is designed to support projects that can be completed within a period of 12 months from their start date.

Unfortunately, we’re not set up to undertake longitudinal projects over multiple years. But don’t fret if you have a long-term project in mind. We recommend that you think about how you can segment that project into smaller projects that are achievable within a year or less. Your EOI should then focus on outlining one of those smaller projects.

Exploring and solving real-world challenges are important to us and our research. Our experienced researchers are motivated to pursue deeply engaged, high-quality and ethical research.

We also understand that at the end of the project, you’ll want the research findings to be told in ways that are meaningful and appropriate to your organisation. Whether you are looking for high-quality reports, brochures or presentation materials, we’ll work closely with you from the outset to understand your needs.

Collaboration with you

SESU projects are collaborative – we intend the projects to lead to a true partnership from beginning to end. Partnering organisations are expected to make in-kind contributions to support the planning and delivery of the project. This is because we need to work closely with you to design a project that is fit for your needs and includes your input on how the project is delivered.

If your EOI is successful, we’ll ask you to nominate staff member/s who will act as project lead/s with us. Together, we’ll develop a clear project plan that will act as the road map for the project. Contributing a project lead will act as an in-kind contribution from your organisation; the funds ACU contributes to the project budget cannot be used to renumerate your staff.

Some other examples of in-kind contributions you can make include:

  • Administrative support provided by your organisation to collate your existing service data
  • Support to ACU researchers to assist in collecting new data
  • Provision of facilities to conduct interviews or focus groups.

SESU projects are co-funded. As outlined in ACU’s Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Policy, it is expected that the partner will contribute a minimum of 50% of the actual cost of undertaking the project. For projects that involve more than one partner organisation, the cost of the 50% contribution will be negotiated between partner organisations.

This funding model is not designed to make a profit; rather, your financial contribution will be fed directly into the project to grow it beyond what can be achieved on ACU’s contribution alone.

What happens if my organisation can’t make a financial contribution?

See the next FAQ in the list below. The EOI form will ask you about the contributions (financial and/or in-kind) you expect to make to the project. 

Partnership agreement

A signed partnership agreement between ACU and your organisation is required before the project can commence.

Child Protection Policy

Promoting the safety, wellbeing and dignity of children and vulnerable adults is consistent with ACU’s mission and values. All children and vulnerable adults who interact with University members on ACU’s site or in the wider community have the right to feel safe and be safe. In line with our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of all children and vulnerable adults, we will ask you to provide a copy of your organisation’s child protection policy if you are an organisation that works with children.

Learn more about ACU’s work in the area of safeguarding children and young people

ACU’s Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Policy says that in exceptional circumstances, unfunded projects will be undertaken (i.e., fully funded by ACU) where the project is strongly aligned with ACU’s Mission, the need is urgent, and the stakeholder does not have the capacity to contribute to the project. Recommendations for the approval of unfunded projects will be made by the Advisory Group and can only be approved by the Vice-President of ACU.

If you would like to apply for ACU to fully fund your project, we expect you to record this in your EOI and list the in-kind contributions your organisation intends to make to the project.

Some examples of in-kind contributions you can make include:

  • A staff lead from your organisation to assist in planning and delivering the project with us
  • Administrative support provided by your organisation to collate your existing service data
  • Support to ACU researchers to assist in collecting new data
  • Provision of facilities to conduct interviews or focus groups
  • Is the project you have in mind something on which you’d like to partner with other organisations?
  • Is the issue systemic or of a big-picture scale, and one that other organisations can provide insights on?
  • Are you intending for the project to have impact across your part of the sector (beyond your organisation)?

If the answer is yes, then an EOI for a sector project is likely to be the best avenue.

If, however, you’re keen to explore the issue by focussing it so that it is specific to your organisation (such as an evaluation of one of your organisation’s services), then an organisation-specific EOI will be the best option.

If you have ideas for more than one project, you can also choose to apply for both types of EOI.

Yes, you are welcome to submit one or more applications.

You might choose to submit organisation-specific EOI/s as well as sector EOI/s, or you might choose to submit an EOI for just one type of project.

Yes, we welcome joint applications for both sector projects and organisation-specific projects.

For sector project applications where you are submitting your own project proposal, joint applications are a requirement.

When completing your EOI, the form will prompt you to include details of all proposed partner organisations.

As part of this process, we ask that you provide brief letters of support from any named partner organisations with your application. Each letter of support must indicate the partner’s willingness to be involved in the proposed research project and be on the partner organisation’s letterhead.

We are committed to the highest standards of ethical research, through promotion of the values outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2023. In undertaking research relating to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is important researchers collaborate with First Nations communities to ensure the project will be of value to them, they support the research, and they are included in the research design.

In the EOI form, we will ask you if your research relates to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and, if it does, we will ask you whether you (or your partner organisation/s) are Aboriginal- or Torres Strait Islander-controlled organisation/s. If not, we will ask you to record the existing relationships your organisation/s already have with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities. This is because if your application is successful, we would like to collaborate with some or all of these communities to design your project.

All submissions will be assessed by the Advisory Group

The most competitive applications will be from organisations that do not have funds readily available to conduct full research projects on their own and have a majority of their trade dedicated to the common and social good.

The Advisory Group will be guided by a set of underlying principles:

  1. Does the project align with the ACU mission to advance the dignity of the human person and the common good, and/or align with the University’s ethos as a Catholic university?
  2. Does the proposed project suggest the potential to have a measurable impact?
  3. Does the project have currency and propose to add value to the issue and/or to the organisation/sector?
  4. Is the application clear about the project’s context, proposed objectives and outcomes and timeline?
  5. Do the proposed financial and/or in-kind contributions appear to add value to the project?
  6. Does ACU have the academic expertise/capacity to undertake the project?
  7. Is the application clear about the reasons for the organisation’s interest in the project and how they will benefit from being involved? (For sector applications to participate in the project nominated by the SESU Advisory Group.)

If your EOI proposal is successful, SESU staff will engage you in the second stage of the application process. This will involve working with you to develop a project plan, timeline and budget. We will also sign a partnership agreement with you and apply for ethics approval for the research (where required).

The second stage generally takes several months.

Project plan

The project plan will outline the aims and intended outcomes as well as the research design and methods of the project. The plan will outline how your organisation will contribute to the project, in addition to what ACU will produce as the final product/s.

Project budget

Project budgets will consider the costs of undertaking a project and may include: 

  • Salary costs for academic staff undertaking the project
  • Special equipment costs
  • Travel costs associated with data collection
  • Incidentals associated with data collection

The examples given here are not exhaustive, nor will all examples be applicable to every project. 

Research Ethics

Depending on the nature of the proposed project, SESU staff may be required to gain research ethics approval for your project before it can commence. Research ethics refers to ethical conduct in research, including the protection of research participants. Universities are required to seek ethics approval for research that involves interactions with human participants or their data.

Learn more

The 2024 round of applications has now closed. Applications for the 2025 round will open in due course.

Preparing your EOI

You can download a PDF of the application questions that are asked in the online application form for each project stream to assist to you to prepare your application. N.b., these documents are not the application forms themselves. All applications must be submitted through the online form during the application period. You can access application forms by clicking on the respective link in the Sector and Organisation-specific pages. 

Organisation specific EOI outline

Sector EOI outline

  • Consider research project ideas that align with your organisation’s or program’s current priorities and needs, so that you are more willing to invest time and interest in it.
  • Try to break a big research project idea into separate projects. Your EOI should then focus on outlining one of those smaller projects. This will make the proposed project more feasible.
  • Start thinking about how you imagine the research project might be undertaken. While you don’t need to include specific details on how you would like to achieve the project’s outcomes, any ideas you have now for how you want the project to be undertaken should be included in your EOI. This information will provide us with a clear sense about how you envisage the shape of the project. For instance, you might know up front that you want to collect certain data from participants of one of your programs. You might also have ideas about the best methods to collect data from them (for example, an online survey, focus groups or interviews).

It is not necessary to provide extensive detail on the research design in your EOI as stage two of the application process will involve working with academic staff to develop a detailed project plan. However, we encourage you to include this information if known. Providing clear information about the project’s objectives, outcomes and approach will assist us to scope the project with you. We do not see the information you provide on your EOI as set in stone, but as a starting place with which to understand your research needs and plan your project with you, if successful.

There are word limits for each open-ended question. You will need to keep within the word limit provided.

If you are interested in partnering with ACU on a research project but unsure what issue or program you want intervention for, you may find it useful to conduct a needs assessment. It will help you to first identify the need/s of the communit/ies your organisation serves and that you want to address.

Identifying community and organisational needs can be a time-consuming process, but it will help you understand which issue needs tackling and would benefit from research or evaluation. It may also help you make decisions about priorities for program or organisational improvement.

The Community Tool Box (2020), developed by the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, contains resources that will help you conduct a needs assessment.

We recommend you begin with Section 1 of Chapter 3. Assessing Community Needs and Resources to determine if this kind of needs assessment will be useful for you, and chapter 2 of the toolkit, Assessing Community Needs and Resources.

Chances are, your organisation will offer services to different groups in the community and work across different areas of your sector, so you will need to decide which service or issue needs intervention that can be addressed through a research project.

The following pointers summarise advice Dr Tamika Heiden, Founder of the Research Impact Academy provides in a series of videos. Dr Heiden talks specifically to researchers in her videos, but we think she makes some good points about identifying a project’s vision and mission that may be useful to you in applying to the SESU.

Knowing your research project’s vision and mission will help you identify the issue you wish to address through your research project and the kind of impact you want to make by undertaking the research project.

Project vision

This describes what you want to achieve in the future by undertaking your research project.

It provides the ‘why’ of your project – why your organisation wants to undertake the research project – and what energises you as an organisation to undertake this work.

Project mission

This is the detail that describes how you achieve your vision. It answers these questions:

  • What do I do?
  • Who am I doing it for?
  • How do I do it?

Here is an example:

Vision: To improve school completion outcomes for young people experiencing disadvantage

What: Outdoor education and sports program that teaches independence and leadership skills to young people experiencing disadvantage

Who: Youth aged 12-18 with a background of disadvantage

How: Implementing program improvements based on the recommendations of a program evaluation

Understanding the what, who and how


  • What area will your research project focus on?
  • To answer this, think about the program, service or area of the sector that the research project is concerned with, e.g. adult education for migrants and refugees, programs to improve educational outcomes for young people, and so on.
  • Your ‘what’ describes what you are doing now in the sector, program or service that the research project relates to.
  • Relate your ‘what’ to the vision you have written.


  • Who are the group/s that the research project focuses on? E.g. the types of organisations in the sector affected by the issue or the clients/users of the program that the project relates to.

Once you have identified your research project’s vision and mission, you will have identified the research project’s objectives (vision), subject area (‘what’), target group (‘who’), and outputs (‘how’). Answering these questions will enable you to flesh out your answers to the questions in the EOI form.


  • This describes what you hope to undertake or create in the research project that will enable you to achieve your vision.
  • Think of this as the product or deliverable of your research project (for example, creating new or expanding your existing knowledge and services).

*Reproduced from Tamika Heiden, Research Impact Academy (2020)

Once you have identified your project’s vision and mission, you will now be ready to write your project’s research question. The research question is a question about the core issue or problem you want to investigate and be able to answer through the research project. It defines the goals of the research project and can be comprised of several related questions. Further:

  • It defines the parameters (scope) of the project: key parameters like cohort (e.g. which communities or program/service participants the research project will focus on), location of study (e.g. the program/service location), time frame and so on are included in the question.
  • It is feasible in scope: not too general (broad) but not too narrowly focused.
  • It is rigorous: ‘why,’ ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions lead to rich research process and research findings compared to ‘yes/no’ or ‘either/or’ questions.
  • It is relevant: the question is about an issue that is important to the community of interest and has the potential to address a need or a problem that the sector, organisation or community is facing.
  • It seeks an outcome: the research question seeks to create new knowledge, confirm something your organisation ‘knows’ based on anecdotal experiences/observations, or correct misinformation.

*You can find examples of well-designed research questions at Grand Canyon University’s Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching.

*Reproduced from Access Alliance’s Community Based Research Toolkit: Resources and Tools for Doing Research with Community for Social Change (2012), pp. 97-98.

This is not necessary; however, we encourage you to provide titles and dates of relevant sources if you think they are key to the proposed project. You will also have the opportunity to provide references relevant to your proposed project if your application progresses to stage two of the application process.
Proposals that were previously deemed unsuccessful by the SESU will not be accepted in this round or subsequent rounds without considerable revision. If you’re thinking of going down this route, we advise that you spend some time workshopping your idea and the original proposal.

You must submit your EOI using the online form. Submissions emailed to the SESU email inbox will not be accepted.

If you are having technical difficulties submitting the online form, please contact us for support within business hours prior to the deadline at

If you are interested in partnering with us but have some questions, we invite you to contact us about your needs.


You might also like

ACU Engagement

Learn more about ACU Engagement, including our mission to provide meaningful engagement opportunities and how to contact us.

Meet ACU Engagement

Research engagement

ACU research engages communities, government, industry and the non-for-profit-sector to create real and sustainable impacts.

Learn more

Ethics and integrity

We are committed to ethical research conducted with integrity and respect for the rights and interests of participants.

Our standards

Our mission and values

Discover our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person, and the common good.

Explore our mission

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs