What a peer does

The Australia Council for the Arts has implemented a deliberative decision-making model of peer assessment. Under this model:

-  The decision making standard is how well the applicants meet the published selection criteria;

-  The decision making method is mutual agreement of the panel, based on reasoned arguments put forward by the peer assessors.

The assessment process

Peers go through a similar process on each assessment panel. They:

–  Are contracted to assess for a specific panel and meeting;

–  Receive an induction to their role;

–  Receive online access to the grant applications and support materials;

–  Review the applications and score each one against the criteria for that grant category;

–  Discuss the merits of the applications at an assessment meeting, and agree the ranked order of applications for each grant category considered.

“You don't have to be an expert in all things; expertise in your area is the whole point, and you'll be adding to a broad range of skills, knowledge and experience. You'll gain invaluable insight into the process and at the same time be offering essential information to your peers, and supporting applicants in their pursuit of a more artistically diverse Australia.”

Lisa Fuller, Literature Peer, ACT

“The discussion that takes place during the assessment meetings is robust and inclusive. You are there because of your own unique experience and knowledge of the arts, which is valued. Trust your judgement and come prepared to contribute to some great discussion.”

Marie Falcinella, Visual Arts Peer, SA


Peers may be asked to assess between 20 and 130 applications, and will have three to six weeks to complete the initial assessment at home. The volume of applications and time available to assess varies between assessment panels and grant categories.

The assessment meetings usually take place at the Australia Council office in Sydney, and may last up to two days.

Peers receive a fee and other allowances as appropriate for participating in assessment panel meetings. Travel and accommodation is coordinated by Council staff.

“It's incredibly daunting to open the scorecard and begin to read through the applications to assess. That feeling doesn't necessarily ease, but if you take it one application at a time, refer back to the criteria and trust in your knowledge, you will make it through the reading and scoring. You know how much those grants can mean to artists and organisations, which makes it a nerve wracking but ultimately rewarding experience.”

Amy-Clare McCarthy, Visual Arts Peer, VIC


The Council works closely with peers to ensure the assessment process is accessible for them. Staff can coordinate a range of services and support, including (but not limited to):

-  providing Auslan interpreters;

-  having application material captioned, audio described or translated;

-  accommodating childcare or other carer responsibilities;

-  helping the peer to participate in the meeting remotely (e.g. teleconference, Skype).

More information:

Download the Peer Handbook for Assessment Panels (PDF) 

Download the Peer Handbook for Assessment Panels (Accessible)

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