21 September 2018


The Australian Research Council (ARC) is continuing to build its support for a diverse research workforce, which will benefit the entire research community. Our commitment to diversity is demonstrated by encouraging all researchers to submit applications, participate in the peer review processes and serve on ARC committees.  

The ARC is ensuring that all eligible researchers have the same opportunity to participate in the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), in particular those from underrepresented and diverse groups, including: gender; actual and career age; non-linear career paths, including interruption and employment outside academia. 

Encouraging broad participation, including through targeted funding schemes, is an ARC priority to ensure that outstanding research and researchers contribute to achieving Australia’s research and innovation goals.

Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and research is available under all NCGP schemes. Additionally, the Discovery Indigenous scheme is exclusively available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. In the last year, we have worked to expand our commitment to, and achievements in, supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, researchers and research students.  

In 2017, we commissioned an evaluation of ARC support for Indigenous researchers and Indigenous research. Overall, the findings were that ARC support has been strong and growing and that this support could continue to improve with some changes to our support mechanisms.

In June this year, we released our response to this evaluation, and in August, we issued the ARC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers and Research Statement of Support and Action Plan 2018–2019, which recognises the importance of, and actively supports participation by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers in the research workforce. 

In conjunction with our commitments under the Statement of Support and Action Plan, the ARC will implement actions to:

  • monitor the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers as a proportion of total researchers in the NCGP—working towards a goal of population parity
  • improve communication of the support mechanisms the ARC has for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and researchers at all career levels, including postdoctoral and honours students
  • review the structure of the Discovery Indigenous scheme to ensure that mechanisms are providing support in the most effective way
  • continue to improve the participation rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members on ARC committees and engagement in assessment processes
  • highlight the research outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and research
  • provide data snapshots of the outcomes of each selection round.

At the ARC, we also recognise our responsibility to help to ensure that research in and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities observes the highest level of responsible and ethical research practices. In accordance with the Statement, and in all grant guidelines and agreements, all research proposals funded by the ARC must comply with the:  

One of the ongoing actions for the 2018–19 Action Plan is to ensure, where possible, that ARC committees, including the ARC College of Experts and the ARC Advisory Council, have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members. This is also an action under the ARC’s Reconciliation Action Plan April 2018–March 2019. This commitment has seen an additional 10 members, nominated by Indigenous groups, appointed to the College of Experts and recruited for the Discovery Indigenous Selection Advisory Committee in 2018.  

The ARC also consulted with representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research community as an integral part of the implementation processes for the Engagement and Impact (EI) Assessment. The EI Assessment , being implemented by the ARC in 2018, is assessing the engagement of researchers with end-users to show how universities are translating their research into economic, social, environmental and other impacts. It is also providing incentives for universities to improve their collaborations with industry and other research end-users. A key component of the EI Assessment is the use of qualitative studies to capture the impacts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, as well as university support for translating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research into wider impacts.

Together, all these initiatives and actions serve to illustrate the ARC’s ongoing commitment to building a diverse and representative research workforce that supports and encourages participation by all.