Becoming a peer

Becoming a peer

The peer assessment process depends on artists and arts professionals willing to become peers and participate on assessment panels. The Australia Council aims to make sure that the experience is rewarding and valuable for peers, and that the process is trusted and recognised as fair and transparent by applicants, the arts sector, and the wider public.  

Who is a peer?

A peer is anyone who has sufficient knowledge or experience of the arts sector to make a fair and informed assessment of applications for funding. This knowledge and experience could be developed in one or more of the roles of a practising artist, arts professional or industry expert in one or more art forms. To participate in peer assessment at the Australia Council, people who consider themselves peers in their area must first register, and then be approved within the Pool of Peers by the Australia Council Board. 

What is involved in being a peer? 

Peers who are selected from the Pool of Peers to participate in an assessment panel are first given an induction by Australia Council staff.

They are then provided with access to a secure online system where they review all of the applications for the grant round(s) they are assessing, and score them against the published assessment criteria. They then come together as a panel to deliberate and agree on a ranking of the applications in a particular grant category by order of merit from highest to lowest to recommend to the Australia Council on funding allocations. Depending on the number of applications being assessed and the size of the grants be allocated, panels will consist of between 3 and 9 peers, and will meet face-to-face or via teleconference. Face-to-face meetings will generally be held in Sydney.

If a peer is invited to participate in a panel but is unable to assess that grant round because of other commitments or a conflict of interest, this will not affect being selected to participate in a peer panel at a later date. 

Peers are paid a sitting fee set by the Australian Government Remuneration Tribunal, travel and accommodation costs are also covered.

What are the benefits of being a peer? 

Being a peer can be a very rewarding experience. Many peers involved say that it is an opportunity for professional development, and identify a range of benefits for getting involved including gaining insight and exposure to national and international artistic contexts, making connections with other artists and arts professionals, and gaining recognition for their professional expertise. Many say it broadens their knowledge of both the sector and the Australia Council, and they welcome the opportunity to give something back to artists and the sector.

Here’s what some of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers have to say about being a peer.

Artists and arts professionals interested in becoming peers are encouraged to download the Peer Handbook at the bottom of the page, which contains in depth information about what is involved in being a peer.

How many times will a peer assess? 

Peers are called up to sit on a panel as needed based on the mix of skills, expertise and attributes required to assess the applications received in that funding round. 

Not all people in the Pool of Peers will sit on an assessment panel during their time in the Pool of Peers. There are approximately 600 people in the Pool of Peers, whereas the Australia Council may draw on the services of up to 300 over the course of a year, including using some peers more than once.

In general, the maximum number of times a person from the Pool of Peers can participate in an assessment panel is six times over three years. Peers remain in the Pool up to three years or after participating in an assessment panel six times – whichever comes first. 

In exceptional circumstances a peer from the Pool may be asked to participate in additional panels if they have a unique knowledge of or experience in a particular art form or part of the sector. This exceptional role requires the authorisation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Australia Council.

What skills and experience do peers need? 

The Australia Council looks for peers with skills and experience across the broad range of art forms and activities we support, and we are committed to forming diverse and balanced panels. We are looking for peers with any of the following skills or experience: 

  • Artistic practice: artists and arts professionals with different artistic styles and philosophies, respected within their field
  • Professional specialisation: artists and arts professionals who perform a variety of different professional roles in the arts that are relevant to the activity funded by the Australia Council  
  • Cultural background: peers sitting on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts panel must be from an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background. 

Consideration is given by the Australia Council when approving peers for the Pool that there is sufficient diversity to ensure Council has the capacity to bring together panels that have both relevant experience and which reflect the diversity of Australian arts and culture, as well as a range of genders, ages, regions and cultural representation on panels. 

Registering to become a peer  

The Australia Council maintains a register of people who have nominated their interest in being a peer assessor for one of the Council’s assessment panels. Artists, arts workers and industry experts interested in becoming a peer with the Australia Council and sitting on panels to assess funding applications need to register interest by logging into the online system and registering your interest.

If you have never used the Australia Council’s online system before, download the instructions here: 

Login to the Australia Council’s online system to register your interest in becoming a peer

Speak to someone about your interest in becoming a peer for the Australia Council. Contact us here.

Existing Peers

This section contains resources for existing peers, and will periodically be updated.

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