This policy statement relates to the extension of eligibility periods for early-career awards and mid-career fellowships.


The Australian Research Council (ARC) is committed to ensuring that all eligible researchers have fair access to competitive funding through the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP).

The ARC promotes and encourages, within the NCGP, approaches to both eligibility and assessment, which take into account the diversity of career, and life, experiences of individual researchers.

  • In relation to eligibility for the Discovery Early Career Researcher (DECRA) and Future Fellowships schemes, the eligibility period may be extended to take into account interruptions experienced due to specified career and life experiences.
  • In relation to assessment within a scheme, the ARC uses the selection criterion Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) to assess the quality of individual researchers. ROPE aims to ensure the assessment processes accurately evaluate a researcher’s career history relative to their current career stage, and considers whether their productivity and contribution is commensurate with the opportunities that have been available to them.

All researchers applying for ARC funding are required to address the ROPE criterion in their proposal including, where relevant, career interruptions. Further information about the implementation of ROPE is in the  ROPE statement.


Under the DECRA and Future Fellowships schemes, the number of years, between the conferral date of a PhD (or equivalent) and the submission closing date for a proposal, is a key element of eligibility.

  • Under the DECRA scheme, researchers are eligible to apply within five years of the conferral date of their PhD or equivalent research higher degree (as certified by the Administering Organisation).
  • Under the Future Fellowships scheme, researchers are eligible to apply within five to 15 years of the conferral date of their PhD, or research higher degree or professional equivalent (as certified by the Administering Organisation).    

The ARC recognises career interruptions can have a significant impact on the period between conferral of a researcher’s PhD, or equivalent, and a subsequent application for ARC funding. The ARC does not want researchers who have experienced specified career interruptions to be disadvantaged in applying for a DECRA or Future Fellowship due to falling outside the eligibility periods.

To this end, the ARC allows extension of the eligibility periods for the DECRAand Future Fellowships schemes for specified career interruptions. 

Eligible (specified) career interruptions

The following significant and not overlapping career interruptions will be considered:

Career Interruption

Time which can be claimed (must be for a period of greater than one month)

Disruption due to international relocation

A period of time commensurate with the interruption not exceeding three months per international relocation.

Carer’s responsibilities

  • Illness or disability
  • Maternity or parental leave
  • Unemployment
  • Non-research employment not concurrent with research employment

A period of time commensurate with the interruption.

Being the primary carer of a dependent child

Two years per dependent child, inclusive of any period of maternity or other parental leave, with no maximum identified.


A primary carer, of a dependent child, who has had extensive caring responsibilities due to reasons such as illness or disability, may be granted a further extension (in addition to the two years) with justification.

Process for extending the timeframe for eligibility

It is the Administering Organisation’s responsibility to assess whether the researcher’s circumstances meet the eligibility criteria. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the Administering Organisation must certify that the candidate meets the eligibility requirements and is eligible to apply under the relevant scheme. 

For policy development and auditing purposes the ARC may ask questions relating to career interruptions within the proposal form. The ARC reserves the right to audit any evidence on which an application is based.