Indigenous researchers

3 minute read


The University of Melbourne welcomes and supports Indigenous graduate researchers.

You will join a diverse community that respects you as a researcher. You’ll also be part of a close-knit Indigenous community that shares your culture, your challenges and your motivations.

Over the years, we’ve connected many graduate researchers with experts in their field. And we’ve provided tailored academic opportunities that meet specific research goals. Under strong Indigenous leadership, we have created powerful initiatives to help you succeed. These initiatives respond to the needs of our growing Indigenous research community. Here's how we can support you to become a successful graduate researcher.

First-hand insight into doing a PhD

Are you an Indigenous student who is considering a PhD? You’re invited to apply for one of our PhD Familiarisation Programs. These three-day programs are fully funded by the University. We offer two specialisations: Health Sciences or Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS).

As part of these programs, you will:

  • discover what a PhD might mean for you
  • meet potential supervisors
  • learn more about the admissions process
  • attend workshops to develop your research skills
  • connect with the University’s most prominent Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers.

These programs run each year. Visit the PhD Familiarisation Program to find out more.

Guidance with your application

As an Indigenous applicant, you will have access to an ‘academic shepherd’. Academic shepherds are senior researchers at the University. They volunteer their time to guide you through the PhD application process. Your shepherd can:

  • Explain the criteria for admission
  • Help you to develop your research proposal
  • Identify any relevant prior research experience to include in your application.

Your shepherd will not be connected to the faculty that you’re enrolling in. This means they can advocate on your behalf, if needed.

Are you ready to apply?

Select ‘Yes’ in the online application form if you would like an academic shepherd. The Academic Convener will then contact you to discuss next steps.

Do you already have an idea for a research project related to an Indigenous issue?

Visit Find an Expert to search for a suitable supervisor for your project.

Want to do a PhD in an Indigenous knowledges topic?

The Indigenous Knowledge Institute (IKI) is building a network of graduate researchers who are advancing research in Indigenous knowledges.

Are you enrolled in, or intending to apply for, a PhD at the University of Melbourne related to Indigenous knowledge systems? If you would like to join a dynamic cohort of researchers, please get in touch with the IKI. Scholarships and other opportunities may also be available to domestic applicants accepted into a PhD program at the University.

Reach out to the Institute for further information.

Two men and three women standing in a group, smiling. image taken at the Indigenous University Welcome and Reconciliation Celebration

A supportive network

Join our Indigenous Graduate Student Association (IGSA) to develop connections and lifelong friendships. You will be part of a culturally supportive and like-minded network where you can share ideas.

The IGSA supports both graduate research and coursework students. Its activities include:

  • hosting social and cultural events to strengthen the Indigenous student community
  • providing professional development and networking opportunities
  • helping Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and staff to work together on research projects.

There are also opportunities to connect with the wider Indigenous community. To learn more about programs and facilities for Indigenous students, visit Murrup Barak.

The Indigenous Department of the Student Union (UMSU) coordinates social events. These events are open to the broader community and encourage cross-cultural engagement.

Professional development opportunities

We support Indigenous graduate researchers to strengthen their research skills. We're also building a strong Indigenous research workforce in Australia and internationally.

That's why we established the Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research. For more than 10 years, this coursework program has welcomed Indigenous researchers from all over Australia.

You'll develop strong research skills during this one-week intensive program. You'll learn in an environment that respects your cultural perspective. Plus, you'll forge valuable networks that will help you as a researcher.

As a next step, we offer the Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Research and Leadership. This course builds your leadership skills across Indigenous research.

Learn more about Indigenous knowledge at the University

Indigenous students and staff are making an important contribution to the broader University community, by deepening our understanding of Indigenous knowledge and culture.

In 2020, the Indigenous Knowledge Institute (IKI) opened at the Parkville campus. Its work focuses on Indigenous-led research that preserves and restores Indigenous knowledge. The IKI supports the wider teaching and understanding of Indigenous cultures across the University. To learn more, follow the Institute on Twitter.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell in conversation with Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Shaun Ewen and former Associate Dean (Indigenous) Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Professor Sandra Eades.

A flexible approach to candidature location

We usually expect graduate researchers to study on campus for at least 12 months of their PhD. But in some circumstances, a residency waiver is appropriate for Indigenous students.

We know that many Indigenous students come from other parts of Australia. Sometimes, the move to a campus is a challenge. Reasons may include:

  • family commitments
  • community responsibilities
  • your research topic may depend on the importance of place.

That's why we offer a flexible approach. If you'd like to know more, contact the Academic Convener at

Guaranteed financial support

As an Indigenous PhD student, you are guaranteed to receive an annual stipend ($A31 200 per year, tax free pro rata in 2020). This is a significant contribution towards your living and study expenses. In addition, we work with you to explore other scholarships or work opportunities.

The annual stipend is the base level of support available for Indigenous graduate researchers. To help you succeed, we will ensure you have a tailored support package that suits your needs. Ask us what this might mean for you

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