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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships guidelines

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 research minds, and supporting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers to establish and develop research careers.

The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships support early-career Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers in undertaking a three year research project.

Queensland Government funding of $240,000 (excluding GST) over three years is available for each fellowship. Project partners must contribute a minimum of $120,000 (excluding GST) in cash over three years.

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


The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships support researchers in completing innovative research that will have a positive impact on Queensland. The program:

  • supports early-career Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers in gaining post-doctoral professional research experience
  • addresses the ‘brain drain’ by retaining the state’s best and brightest Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander research minds in Queensland
  • attracts talented Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers from interstate
  • fosters increased linkage and closer collaboration with industry organisations
  • supports researchers to balance their professional careers and personal responsibilities through part-time fellowships
  • will deliver tangible benefits and practical outcomes for Queensland
  • supports innovative, practical and applied research that:

Eligibility criteria

  • It is a requirement of this program that the nominated Fellow 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 Fellow must undertake the fellowship in Queensland.
  • The Fellow must be an Australian citizen, or secure Australian residency for the duration of the fellowship. In cases where the Fellow 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 fellowship.
  • The Fellow must be employed by the applicant organisation in a full-time or part-time (minimum 50 per cent FTE) capacity.
  • The Fellow must have a PhD research qualification with up to 5 years post-PhD research experience.

    Note: (1) Allowances will be made for time taken away from research, for example, for parenting, caring, illness, or time in non-research roles, and (2) applicants in the process of completing a PhD must have their thesis submitted by the closing date for applications.

  • The fellowship proposal must:

Partner organisations

The fellowship 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 Fellow must spend at least 50 per cent of their fellowship 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 Fellow and their Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation. In these situations at least 25 per cent of the fellowship 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 Fellow must spend at least 50 per cent of their fellowship time physically located within that organisation.

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

Cash co-funding requirements

The fellowship project must have combined cash funding from the applicant organisation and partner organisation(s) that equals or exceeds $120,000 (excluding GST) over three years.

Cash is a combination of:

  • funding directly contributed to the fellowship by the applicant organisation and the partner organisation(s)
  • “salaries as cash”. This includes the standard remuneration and on-costs of the Fellow and other dedicated fellowship research/technical staff. The non-fellowship time of these staff can not be claimed.

Other conditions

The fellowship project must commence within six months of notification of the award, and must not commence before it is approved by the Queensland Government.

  • Fellows are expected to complete the fellowship research over three continuous years.
  • The fellowship is not transferable in cases where the approved Fellow cannot complete the fellowship.
  • The applicant organisation must provide a financial acquittal statement to the department annually containing details of:
    • Queensland Government funding received and expended
    • their cash contributions to the fellowship
    • the cash contributions of the partner organisation(s) towards the fellowship.
  • Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellows must not concurrently hold another fellowship.

The Fellow must have not previously received a Queensland Government fellowship of the same or higher level.

  • Fellows should actively promote their research; provide broad fellowship information if required; and attend media/promotion events if requested.
  • The Fellow 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 fellowship, including changes that may impact on eligibility, research milestones, project funding or reporting.

Using the fellowship funds

The Queensland Government fellowship payments will be released to the applicant organisation to administer the grant funding. The funding may be used for the following eligible project costs.

Salary costs

Salary costs, including standard on-costs (leave loading, superannuation contributions, worker’s compensation contributions, and payroll tax) for key research staff, including:

  • the Fellow, who must spend at least 50 per cent FTE on the fellowship. The Fellow’s claimed salary must be commensurate with the FTE percentage committed to the fellowship. A Fellow is not entitled to a full-time salary unless they spend 100 per cent FTE on the fellowship
  • the FTE fellowship time of other dedicated fellowship research/technical staff, including post-doctoral research staff.

Other costs

Project costs directly related to the fellowship, including:

  • consumables required specifically for the fellowship project
  • small equipment (up to $10,000 per item) required specifically for the fellowship project
  • travel within Australia that is required as part of the fellowship, including attending state or national conferences, for the Fellow and dedicated fellowship research/technical staff
  • overseas travel, including registration and attendance at overseas conferences that are directly relevant to the fellowship project (for the Fellow only).

Only eligible expenditure incurred on or after the commencement of the fellowship can be claimed.

Ineligible expenditure and cash contributions

Items not eligible for funding, or to be regarded as matched cash funding, include:

  • institutional on-costs above standard salary on-costs
  • institutional overheads and operational costs, including general facility and accommodation related costs
  • costs associated with non-fellowship projects/programs of the sponsor or partner organisations
  • the salary costs of non-fellowship activities for the Fellow or other dedicated fellowship staff
  • costs associated with administrative support staff
  • contract research for services that can be performed by the applicant organisation.

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 applicant and partner organisations 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 Fellow has the professional, research, project management and industry engagement skills to undertake and complete the proposed fellowship.

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.

Fellowship 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 Research Fellowships terms and conditions; the Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships 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 Research Fellowships 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 Research Fellowships 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 Fellow’s PhD
  • scanned (PDF) letters of support from the applicant organisation and 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 applicant and partner organisations should clearly outline:

  • their commitment to, and reasons for supporting, the fellowship project
  • the likely benefits to be gained by participating in the fellowship
  • the annual cash contributions they will make to the fellowship.

Note: The letters of support from the industry/end-user partner organisations should outline the amount of time the Fellow will be physically co-located with them over the course of the fellowship.

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

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