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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships guidelines 2016-17

About the program

Advance Queensland focuses on growing the economy and creating jobs. This includes investing in science and innovation in order to attract and retain the best and brightest minds, and support new researchers to gain appropriate research experience and qualifications to pursue their chosen career.

The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships program supports Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander scholars in gaining a research PhD degree. This lays the fundamental foundation for a future research career.

The program provides up to $120,000 over three years (GST exempt) for Scholars to undertake an applied PhD research project. This includes a thesis submission payment of $2,500 for Scholars who submit their thesis within 3.5 years of commencement.

The program is managed by the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (the department).


The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships program:

  • supports emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers to gain research qualifications and establish research reputations
  • addresses the ‘brain drain’ by retaining Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander research talent in Queensland
  • attracts talented Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers from interstate
  • fosters increased linkage and closer collaboration with industry organisations
  • will deliver tangible benefits and practical outcomes for Queensland
  • supports innovative, practical and applied research that:

Eligibility criteria

Applications for Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships are to be submitted by the agency hosting the PhD candidate.

  • It is a requirement of this program that the nominated Scholar identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.
  • The applicant organisation must be Queensland-based (GST registered with an Australian Business Number) and includes, but is not limited to:
    • universities
    • research agencies
    • government organisations
    • not-for-profit/charitable organisations
    • businesses.
  • The nominated PhD Scholar must conduct the scholarship in Queensland.
  • The nominated PhD Scholar must be hosted as a full-time student.
  • The PhD Scholar must be an Australian citizen, or secure Australian residency for the duration of the scholarship. In cases where the Scholar does not have residency at the time of application, if successful, they will have up to six months from the date of notification to obtain residency covering the duration of the scholarship.
  • The scholarship proposal must:

Partner organisations

The scholarship project must involve at least one Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation, that is, a private, public or not-for-profit organisation that will progress the translation and practical application of the research.

Note: For non-industry/end-user organisation applicants - the industry/end-user partner must be a separate entity from the applicant organisation - not a parent or subsidiary, or a spin-out established for less than 12 months.

The Scholar must spend at least 50 per cent of their scholarship time physically co-located with one or more Queensland-based industry/end-user partner organisations. Higher levels of co-location will be viewed favourably.

The only exception to the physical co-location requirement is in cases of geographical separation between the Scholar and their Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation. In these situations at least 25 per cent of the scholarship must be spent physically co-located with the industry/end-user.

Industry/end-user organisation applicants

In cases where the applicant is an industry/end-user organisation, the Scholar must spend at least 50 per cent of their scholarship time physically located within that organisation.

Company/business based Scholars must demonstrate that they will meaningfully collaborate with a Queensland-based university or research organisation throughout the scholarship.

Other conditions

  • The scholarship project must be a new project commencing after the submission of the application, and within six months of being offered an award.
  • Scholars are expected to complete the scholarship research over three continuous years.
  • The scholarship is not transferable in cases where the approved Scholar cannot complete the PhD.
  • Scholars should actively promote their research; provide broad scholarship information if required; and attend media/promotion events if requested.
  • The Scholar must have not previously received a Queensland Government PhD Scholarship.
  • The Scholar and applicant organisation must acknowledge the Queensland Government’s funding in all relevant published material, media releases and public statements.
  • The department must be advised of any changes that are likely to impact on the scholarship, including changes that may impact on eligibility, research milestones, project funding or reporting.

Using the PhD Scholarship funds

The scholarship payments will be released to the applicant organisation to administer the grant funding.

The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships funding can be used for:

  • living expenses
  • project consumables and operating costs
  • small equipment
  • PhD related travel.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria below will have equal weighting in the assessment process.

1. Well planned research project

The application should demonstrate:

  • awareness of other research that has been/is being undertaken in the proposed research space. (If applicable, please outline the outcomes of patent searches)
  • the proposed research is novel, has scientific merit, and addresses a significant issue
  • the proposed project is well planned and achievable.

2. Quality of the collaboration

The application should demonstrate:

  • serious engagement with at least one Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation, including physical co-location
  • the establishment of working relationships that will benefit the research, both on the research side (locally, nationally and/or internationally) and with the partner organisation(s)
  • the meaningful involvement of people/organisations with complementary areas of expertise.

Note: The letters of support from the industry/end-user partner organisation(s) will be considered as part of this assessment criterion.

3. Clear outcomes and relevance for Queensland

The application should outline:

  • how the research findings will be translated into outcomes, and how the benefits for Queensland will be demonstrated
  • how the proposed research addresses one or more of the Queensland Science and Research Priorities, or will apply the research of Business Schools to support entrepreneurship and small to medium enterprise growth in Queensland
  • how the proposed research will deliver value for money through tangible economic, social, environmental and/or regional benefits to Queensland within the next five years.

4. Track record

The application should demonstrate that the Scholar has the professional, research, project management and industry engagement skills to undertake and complete the proposed scholarship.

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed as they are received, and will be evaluated according to how they address the program’s assessment criteria.

Applicants may be contacted during the assessment process to clarify information provided in the application and/or to request additional information to enable the appropriate consideration of the application.

Applications may also be considered in the context of the government’s priorities and the imperative to create jobs for the economy.

To support better assessment and targeted investment in science and research, the ‘R.E.D.S.’ Decision Rules were developed. In essence, these rules will be considered in evaluating, prioritising and making decisions around future investment. The following science and research investment decision rules should be addressed in the application:

  • Real future impact for Queensland—what will be the tangible benefit for Queensland, and how long will it take to happen?
  • External commitment—what is the involvement of, and commitment from, your external collaborative partners and end-users?
  • Distinctive angle—what is in it for Queensland, and why is Queensland the place to conduct the research?
  • Scaling towards critical mass—how, and with whom, will you be collaborating on your research, locally (state-wide) as well as nationally/internationally to achieve quality and significant capability in Queensland?

The assessment process will also take into account the need to balance the Queensland Government’s research investment to support a diversity of capability across scientific disciplines, geographic regions and research groups.

Scholarship Agreement

For successful applications, the applicant organisation will enter into a legally binding Financial Incentive Agreement (FIA) with the Queensland Government. The applicant organisation automatically signs the FIA by submitting a signed declaration page with the application form, but the FIA is not finalised until the authorised DSITI representative signs a separate FIA execution page. This occurs after the applications have been assessed and the successful applicants approved.

The agreement consists of the Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships terms and conditions; the Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships guidelines; and the application, including supporting information.

The applicant organisation and the nominated fellow must not enter into any legally binding arrangements with other parties which prevent them from meeting obligations under the Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships financial incentive agreement.


The Queensland Government collects and collates information from the application form to evaluate applications for the program. Only authorised departmental officers and approved grant assessors have access to this information under the Financial Accountability Act 2009 for the purpose of assessing the application for funding.

Applicants should note that broad details of successful proposals, agreed outcomes, progress and the level of funding awarded may be published by the Queensland Government.

Some information may be used to promote funded projects.

Your personal information will not be disclosed to any other third party without your consent, unless required by law or for the purposes of Information Privacy Act 2009 .

For audit purposes, the Queensland Government is required to retain the applications and other supplied support material.

The provisions of the Right to Information Act 2009 apply to documents in the possession of the Queensland Government.

How to apply

Applications for the Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships are open continuously until the funding pool is exhausted.

The application consists of:

  • a completed on-line application form
  • a scanned (PDF) copy of the proposed Scholar’s academic transcript
  • scanned (PDF) letters of support from the industry/end-user partner organisation(s)
  • a signed Financial Incentive Agreement Terms and Conditions declaration page. The template is available on the Advance Queensland website and must be printed, signed by a delegated representative from the applicant organisation, scanned in PDF, and uploaded with the application form.

All scanned documents can be submitted as part of the on-line application process.

Letters of support

Letters of support from the industry/end-user partner organisation(s) should clearly outline:

  • their commitment to, and reasons for supporting, the scholarship project
  • the likely benefits to be gained by participating in the scholarship
  • the amount of time the Scholar will be physically co-located with them over the course of the PhD Scholarship project.

Further information

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Last updated
4 May, 2017

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