Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships 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 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 Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games (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
  • assists in retaining Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander research talent in Queensland, and attracting interstate talent to Queensland
  • supports increased linkage and closer collaboration with industry organisations to foster the translation of research into practice
  • delivers tangible benefits and practical outcomes for Queensland.

Eligibility criteria

  • 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 a Queensland-based agency that conducts research including, but not limited to:
    • universities
    • research agencies
    • government organisations
    • not-for-profit/charitable organisations
    • businesses.
  • The applicant organisation must be registered for GST and have an Australian Business Number.
  • The nominated PhD Scholar must undertake the scholarship in Queensland, and reside in Queensland for the term of the scholarship. 
  • The nominated PhD Scholar must be enrolled in a Queensland university 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 have clear benefits and/or outcomes for Queensland.

Industry/end-user collaborators

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.

The Scholar must spend some of their PhD research project physically co-located with at least one Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation.

Non-university applicants

Non-university based Scholars must demonstrate that they will meaningfully collaborate with a Queensland-based university throughout the scholarship.

Other conditions

  • The scholarship project must be a new project commencing after the submission of the application, and within 6 months of being offered an award.
  • Scholars are expected to complete the scholarship research over 3 continuous years.
  • The scholarship is not transferable in cases where the approved Scholar cannot complete the PhD.
  • 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. Please also advise the department of changes to the contact details of the Scholar.
  • Scholars should actively promote their research; provide broad scholarship information if required; and attend media/promotion events if requested.

Using the PhD Scholarship funds

The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD Scholarships payments will be released to the applicant organisation to administer the grant funding.

The scholarship funding can be used for:

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

Assessment criteria

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

1. Project relevance and merit

The application must:

  • outline why the proposed research is important to Queensland
  • provide details of the research to be undertaken. The proposed research must have scientific merit, and be well planned and achievable. Please refer to key research that has been/is being undertaken by others in the proposed space. If applicable, outline the outcomes of patent searches.

2. Meaningful collaboration

The application should demonstrate:

  • meaningful engagement and collaboration with at least 1 Queensland-based industry/end-user organisation. This must include some physical co-location with the industry/end-user organisation(s) (compulsory). Meaningful engagement may also be demonstrated by:
  • cash-contributions from the industry/end-user partner organisation(s)
  • access to specialist equipment and supplies owned by the industry/end-user partner organisation(s)
  • access to professional or technical expertise in the industry/end-user partner organisation(s)
  • access to a mentor in an industry/end-user organisation.
  • the involvement of people and/or organisations with complementary areas of expertise.

Note: The letters of support from the industry/end-user collaborators will be considered as part of this assessment criterion.

3. Clear outcomes and benefits for Queensland

The application must demonstrate:

  • clear, quantified, outcomes/benefits for Queensland, preferably within the next five years. Please refer to economic, social, environmental and/or regional benefits
  • how the research addresses an industry/end-user need
  • the expected benefits for each industry/end-user collaborator.

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 PhD project.

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed in the order in which they are received, and 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.

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 Queensland Government representative signs a separate FIA execution page. This occurs after the applications have been assessed and the successful applicants approved.

The FIA 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 Scholar 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 FIA.


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:

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 collaborator organisation(s) should clearly outline:

  • their commitment to, and reasons for supporting, the PhD project
  • the likely benefits to be gained by participating in the proposed research
  • the amount of time the Scholar will be physically co-located with them over the course of the PhD Scholarship project
  • the annual cash contributions they will make to the PhD project (if applicable).
Last updated 28 Aug, 2018
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0) ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/au/ )

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