Lee Burger

Image: Associate Dean, Research; Senior Research Fellow, Dr Lee Berger.
Image courtesy: College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, James Cook University.

As part of its commitment to promoting diversity and equity principles under the schemes of the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), the ARC supports part-time opportunities for award and fellowship recipients under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, Future Fellowships, and Discovery Indigenous schemes. Under current provisions, conversion to part-time arrangements may be granted for family and/or carer responsibilities or for exceptional research circumstances. Postdoctoral research and higher degree by research awards under the Australian Laureate Fellowships and Industrial Transformation Training Centres schemes may also be converted to part-time arrangements.

Early- and mid-career researchers funded under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and Future Fellowships schemes are embracing the opportunity to undertake their research part-time with the support of their Administering Organisation. In 2016, the ARC received over 40 notifications of either conversions or changes to part-time arrangements under the two schemes. The majority were due to family and/or caring responsibilities, such as return to work from maternity leave, or sharing responsibilities for childcare.

For ARC Future Fellow, Dr Lee Berger from James Cook University, researching infectious wildlife diseases of importance to conservation and biosecurity, moving to part-time was essential in continuing her career. The move to part-time research to care for three young children was ‘the key’, together with support of family and colleagues, to maintaining a healthy balance between the needs of her research, mental wellbeing, and her children’s development.

Working part-time also benefited Dr Berger’s research. “A benefit of the extended fellowship included the ability to recruit PhD students and supervise them to completion,” Dr Berger said.

Dr Berger believes her part-time opportunity meant that she achieved more than she could have working full time for three years. “I found the long term, output-oriented focus of a research career made it possible to combine with motherhood, and I am grateful to the ARC for their flexibility and their grant review processes that really take into account career interruptions,” Dr Berger said.

For more information on part-time arrangements, please refer to the Funding Agreement for individual ARC schemes.

For more information on the ARC’s work to promote gender equality in research, please see the ARC’s recently updated Gender Equality in Research webpage.