Shared Underwater Cultural Heritage | Call for Proposals 2019

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canberra, Australia
welcomes project proposals for initiatives focusing on Dutch-Australian underwater cultural heritage to be initiated in 2019.

Dutch-Australian Underwater Cultural Heritage

The Dutch explored the Australian coastline more than 150 years before James Cook and the two nations have worked together on maritime heritage for more than 40 years, culminating in the highly successful 2016 celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Dirk Hartog’s landing on the Australian continent. As far back as 1606, Dutchman Willem Janszoon and his crew on the Duyfken made the first European landing on the Australian continent. Many Dutch explorers, including Dirk Hartog and Abel Tasman, followed. Some of the Dutch journeys to Australia did not end well. So far, four Dutch shipwrecks have been found in Australian waters, including the Batavia and the Zuytdorp, others  are still missing.

Recent examples of Dutch-Australian cooperation on underwater cultural heritage are the search for the Fortuyn, a Dutch East India company ship that was lost in 1724, and the Shipwrecks of the Roaring 40s’ project, which aims to reinvestigate the sites and previously excavated finds of the oldest European shipwrecks lost on the West-Australian coast, including the famous Dutch East Indiamen Batavia, Zeewijk, Zuytdorp and Vergulde Draeck with the newest technologies and methodologies.

Memorandum of Understanding
On 15 September 2017, the Netherlands and Australia signed a major new agreement on how our two countries jointly manage and research our shipwrecks, sunken relics and other underwater cultural heritage. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) seeks to encourage more joint projects and sharing of skills and resources, in alignment with the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
The  MOU provides a framework for more research into 17th and 18th century maritime life and seafaring, encompassing the earliest history of European encounters with the Australian coast, later contact and cooperations and our shared underwater cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region.

Click here to read the full Memorandum of Understanding.

International cooperation

The Dutch Diplomatic missions in Australia release this Call for Proposals in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Agency (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) of the Netherlands. The Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), together with the Central Government Real Estate Agency (Ministry of Internal Affairs) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for the management and preservation of Dutch shipwrecks located outside the Netherlands’ territorial waters. The shipwrecks involved are under Dutch ownership. They may have belonged to, for example, the West India Company (WIC), the East India Company (VOC) or the Admiralty (and its successors).

Through its own Shared Cultural Heritage Programme, the RCE develops and supports projects focused on maritime archaeology and cultural heritage management. It closely cooperates with governments and other parties involved in maritime heritage. The Netherlands government – as the flag state - seeks for a joint responsibility with the coastal state for the protection and management of Dutch wrecks in their waters.  It promotes, supports and facilitates cooperation.

To both the Dutch diplomatic missions and the RCE, international cooperation and knowledge exchange in the field of maritime heritage are of great importance, as they are crucial factors in the management and preservation of this unique heritage.

All project applications will be assessed by the Embassy and the RCE, in consultation with the Australian Department of Energy and Environment, which administers the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 that protects shipwrecks and their associated relics that are older than 75 years.

Your application | Project criteria

  1. The project commences after 1 March 2019 but before 1 December 2019 and will run for a period not exceeding four years;
  2. The project contributes to collecting and enhancing knowledge on Australian-Dutch maritime heritage;
  3. The project contributes to knowledge exchange;
  4. The project contributes to capacity building of professionals in Shared Cultural Heritage (SCH) partner countries;
  5. The project creates awareness and knowledge about Australian-Dutch maritime heritage, mainly among an Australian audience;
  6. The project will be conducted in accordance with international best practice as outlined in the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage - Annex Rules concerning activities directed at underwater cultural heritage;
  7. The project has a long-term impact;
  8. The project promotes cooperation between Australian and Dutch counterparts;
  9. The project promotes skill sharing and professional development opportunities, and hands-on marine educational opportunities for learning and participating in maritime archaeology and maritime history;
  10. A strong joint communication strategy is part of the project planning;
  11. If applicable: involvement from key stakeholders and the community to ensure the project can continue after Embassy funding ceases;
  12. The project has a clear outcome with tangible results.

Optional criteria

  • The project presents opportunities for trilateral cooperation;
  • Public-private partnerships and private sector involvement, e.g. through sponsoring or advertising.

Applicant criteria

  1. Grant applications must be submitted by a professional, non-commercial Australian organisation that is not dependent on the financial contribution for its financial survival;
  2. The applicant uses the application form for Shared Underwater Heritage projects 2019, provided by the Embassy (see below, under documents);
  3. The applicant works together with a Dutch project partner based in the Netherlands;
  4. The cooperation is based on equality, reciprocity and respect for ownership;
  5. The application form should be accompanied by a written confirmation from the Dutch counterpart(s), confirming that the application has been drawn up in mutual agreeance;
  6. The applicant has taken note of the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 that protects shipwrecks and their associated relics that are older than 75 years;
  7. The financial contribution from the Dutch government will in principle not exceed 60% of the total project budget. The financial value (or a fair estimate) of any in-kind contributions (such as expertise, equipment, office space and PR) may be included. Please note, overhead costs will not be funded;
  8. The financial contribution requested from the Embassy should be between 3.000 and 25.000 AUD.

Deadline and application procedure

  • Applications have to be submitted by filling out the attached application form for 2019.

  • The final deadline to for applications is 1 October 2019.

  • Applications will be accepted until 1 October 2019 or until funding is exhausted.

  • The Embassy aims to decide on your application within 13 weeks after receiving the original by mail.

Please note application forms have to be signed and the original application form sent to the Embassy by post:

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Attn. Ms Femke Withag
120 Empire Circuit
Yarralumla ACT 2600

If you have any questions, please contact us on or call +61 2 6220 9400 and ask for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

Additional information