Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships guidelines

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 3 year research project that will have a positive impact on Queensland.

Queensland Government funding of $240,000 (excluding GST) over 3 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 Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games.


The Advance Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Fellowships program:

  • supports early-career Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers in gaining post-doctoral professional research experience
  • assists in 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
  • 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 by supporting applied research and development.

Eligibility criteria

  • It is a requirement of this program that the nominated Fellow identifies as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.
  • The applicant organisation must be a Queensland-based agency that conducts research and includes, but is 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 Fellow must be employed by the applicant organisation in a minimum 50% FTE capacity.
  • The Fellow must spend a minimum 50% FTE on the fellowship. The fellowship funding is the same (full amount), and the fellowship must be completed in three years, irrespective of the Fellow’s FTE on the fellowship. Part-time Fellows can use the funding to engage more technical and research support than full-time Fellows.
  • The 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 have a PhD research qualification with up to 5 years post-PhD research experience at the time of submitting the application.
  • Note: (1) Allowances will be made for time taken away from research, for example, for parenting, caring, illness, or time in non-research roles. Applicants cannot claim standard recreation leave, sick leave or long service leave as a research gap. (2) A nominated Fellow in the process of completing a PhD must have their thesis submitted before they submit an application. In these cases the fellowship cannot commence until the PhD has been approved.

  • The fellowship proposal must have clear benefits and/or outcomes for Queensland.
  • The fellowship must be undertaken in Queensland, and the Fellow must reside in Queensland for the term of the fellowship.

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.

Fellows must spend some of their fellowship physically co-located with one or more Queensland-based industry/end-user organisations.

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.

Industry/end-user organisation applicants

In cases where the applicant is an industry/end-user organisation, the Fellow must spend some 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 co-funding from the applicant organisation and partner organisation(s) that equals or exceeds $120,000 (excluding GST) over 3 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 salary remuneration and salary on-costs of the Fellow and other dedicated fellowship research/technical staff. Salaries as cash can be claimed for the FTE time that staff spend on the fellowship project for applicant and partner organisation staff. The non-fellowship time of these staff cannot be claimed as a cash contribution.

Queensland Government non-grant funding may be used as co-funding cash, but cannot exceed $60,000 (excluding GST) from all sources (applicant and/or all partner funding).

Queensland Government grant funding cannot be used as co-funding cash.

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 3 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.
  • A nominated 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. Please also advise the department of changes to the contact details of the Fellow.

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% 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% 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
  • contract research for services that cannot be performed by the applicant organisation, but are integral to the fellowship project
  • travel to conduct research for the Fellow and dedicated fellowship research/technical staff
  • conference travel for the Fellow.

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 applicant or partner organisations
  • the salary costs of non-fellowship activities for the Fellow or other dedicated fellowship staff
  • the salary costs of the Fellow’s supervisor
  • 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. 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 participation 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 other people and/or organisations with complementary areas of expertise.

3. Clear outcomes and benefits for Queensland

The application must demonstrate:

  • clear, quantified, outcomes/benefits for Queensland within the next five years, with a well-defined path to translate the research findings into the outcomes/benefits. Please refer to economic, social, environmental and/or regional benefits
  • how the research addresses an industry/end-user need, and the expected benefits for each industry/end-user organisation
  • how the success of the research will capture value for Queensland, including through adoption and/or commercialisation.

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 in a competitive, merit based process against the program’s assessment criteria by panels comprised of members with scientific, research and/or industry experience.

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.

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 departmental 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 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 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.

The Fellow’s personal information will not be disclosed to any other third party without their 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 the nominated Fellow and 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.

Last updated 21 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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