Request for Tender: Tea Tree Oil communications project

This request for tender is seeking the services of an organisation or individual to provide communications services to the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.

The aim is to disseminate the findings of a recent study, co-funded by the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program, examining the link, or lack thereof, of essential oils and endocrine disruption.

Please note this Request for Tender has been extended and now closes on Monday 18 October 2021 at 5pm (AEDT).


AgriFutures Australia’s main function and purpose is investment, dissemination and commercialisation of research and development for the benefit of our primary industries.

Tea tree oil is a well-established natural compound, derived from the steam distillation of the oil from the native Australian species Melaleuca alternifolia. To date over 830 clinical papers have been published on the functionality of TTO supporting its broad potential for consumer products (PubMed, 2018). Over 1000 metric tonnes of 100% pure Australian TTO are used directly and in common consumer products annually.

A case study in 2007[1] claimed a link between Lavender Oil (LO) and TTO and a condition in young boys called gynecomastia or pre-pubertal breast development. In 2018[2] a second study was published that claimed these essential oils and some of the components found in them and other essential oils caused endocrine disruption in boys and, for the first time, premature thelarche in girls. The 2018 study was rebutted by ATTIA Ltd[3]

The results from both studies were sensationalised by the media, causing concern amongst consumers – especially parents and GPs – around the world. Multiple letters to the editor and independently published research citing the poor science of the case studies, the low to undetectable concentration of EOs in the product formulations and, most importantly, the demonstrated false positive nature of the in-vitro testing methodology were well received. In particular, a paper published by Carson et al. in Reproductive Toxicology (2014)[4] demonstrated that compounds in these EOs could dissolve the polystyrene material typically used in microtiter in vitro testing 96-well plates and thereby releasing styrene trimers which are known endocrine disruptors, from the polystyrene material. One of the original Authors (Korach) and colleagues made further claims against LO and TTO in 2018 in an oral presentation at the annual ENDO professional conference. These data were also rebutted by several respondents including Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) Ltd.

The Franklin Institute research team have submitted their findings to a peer reviewed journal, two [5] [6] have now been published and the third has been accepted pending publication.

Tea tree oil is approved by the European Medicines Agency as a natural herbal medicine for specific medical applications. Tea tree oil has undergone extensive recent safety testing, including toxicity and dermal penetration studies, to understand the risks to humans. All necessary testing on TTO has been completed, as required by the European Chemicals Agency for its registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restriction of chemicals initiative.  These tests have not identified ‘red flags’ of concern for the continued use of TTO in juvenile males, nor in any other age range.

AgriFutures Australia, in partnership with ATTIA, will disseminate the findings of the Franklin Health Research Centre study, to educate the medical community and reassure consumers around the world that Australian TTO is a safe and well-established natural ingredient with excellent health benefits for consumers and consumer products.








Service requirements

AgriFutures is seeking an individual or organisation to provide communications services to the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.

This project will disseminate the findings of a recent study investigating the relationship between essential oils, focusing on tea tree oil, and endocrine disruption. The project includes, but is not limited to, the delivery of:

  • Dissemination of the fundings to a consumer audience (including media relations, and basic dissemination via social media).
  • Targeted communications to healthcare professionals, with a strong focus on General Practitioners, Natural Medicine Practitioners and pharmacies.

There may also be scope for a digital marketing campaign and responses should consider and include a quote for this work.

It is expected the bulk of the project will be completed within three months.

Key considerations:

  • Describe how you will achieve the proposed deliverables.
  • Provide a potential timeline for key activities and outputs.
  • Confirmation you can deliver the project outputs by within three months.
  • Describe how you will engage with healthcare professionals and consumers to disseminate the key research findings.


In your response please outline how your organisation’s approach and services can deliver the desired outcomes for the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program.

Please consider the following key points when preparing your application:

  1. How you will deliver the project prior to the end of 2021 (three months).
  2. Do you have the skills and experience in undertaking communications in the healthcare industry, and can you demonstrate these skills?
  3. Demonstrate value for money.

Please provide testimonials or references from companies to which you have provided a similar service.

Indicative timeline

  Activity Date
1 Request for Tender Issue Thursday 7 October 2021
2 Closing time for respondent’s response Monday 18 October 2021 (5pm AEDT)
3 Contract Execution Prior to Friday 29 October 2021
4 Commencement of project Friday 29 October 2021 (if not sooner)

Evaluation criteria

Responses will be evaluated against:

  • The evaluation criteria identified in the table below; and
  • The overall proposition presented in the respondent’s response.


Mandatory Assessment Criteria
Assessment criteria Weighting
(a)   Project Plan 40%
(b)   Capability and relevant experience 40%
(c)   Cost and value for money 20%


Mandatory Requirements Complies
Are you able to meet the timeframe Yes/No
 ABN Yes/No


Desirable Requirements Complies
Provide examples of your Organisation’s ability to provide a similar service. Yes/No
Testimonials/references Yes/No


Applicants must declare to AgriFutures Australia any matter or issue which may be perceived to be, or may lead to, a conflict of interest regarding their proposal or participation in the supply of the services described.

AgriFutures Australia believes that the project should be completed within three months. If a longer timeframe is required, the applicant should provide an explanation as to why that is the case.

Essential requirements in the tender response

Applications for this Request for Tender must be submitted online using the application in K2. Applicants are required to review the full Request for Tender documentation before submitting a response.


Respondents will be expected to provide:

  • Project plan – including process to be used and expected outcomes and outputs
  • Budget – attachments may be included
  • Explanation for how proposed process is appropriate for this RFT
  • Capability and relevant experience

The resultant Contract is expected to commence no later than Friday 29 October 2021.

It is expected that a contract will be awarded based on how well a respondent addresses the objectives of the open tender. Selection will be based on the evaluation criteria. A detailed response will be beneficial. There is the opportunity to include additional attachments if necessary, with your application in K2.

How to make a submission

Applications for this Request for Tender must be submitted online using the application in K2. Applicants are required to review the full Request for Tender documentation before submitting a response (please note the process will be called Request for Quotation or RFQ in K2).


Users must create a K2 account before submitting a proposal. To set up a secure account before submitting a proposal, please visit the login page below to access our new user or new company request forms.

Usernames and passwords will only be issued while the applicable round is open.


If you require assistance, please contact

Terms of reference

AgriFutures Australia uses standard form contracts and agreements for projects and research procured by AgriFutures Australia (available via These contracts and agreements set out the terms on which AgriFutures Australia will engage successful applicants to carry out the project.


Applicants must be familiar with the contracts and agreements before submitting a response, and are advised to seek legal advice beforehand.

These contracts and agreements have been developed to reflect AgriFutures Australia’s statutory and other procurement responsibilities.

If you require any amendments to the standard agreement please complete the statement of non-compliance for each of the relevant clause. AgriFutures will then assess those requests.

Applicants will be taken to have agreed to all clauses in the Research Agreement that are not referred to in a statement of non-compliance. The extent of any non-compliance will be a factor in AgriFutures Australia’s evaluation of the application.

If you require further information regarding these contracts and agreements please, contact Erin Hulm, Manager, Legal Services via email