2 June 2021

The ARC supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, research students and research under all National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) schemes, including the Discovery Indigenous scheme.

The Discovery Indigenous scheme, which replaced the previous Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development scheme, exclusively provides grant funding to support research projects led by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researcher. The scheme also includes the Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (DAATSIA), which provides a salary for eligible Indigenous Australian researchers across career stages, from early-career through to research leaders, for up to five years. Funding is awarded based on research excellence and determined through a rigorous peer review process.

Since the introduction of the Discovery Indigenous scheme in 2012, more than $51 million has been awarded to 102 research grants led by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researcher, and has also included 42 DAATSIAs.

You can now see Discovery Indigenous scheme outcome data in an interactive trend visualisation format by funding amount, success rate, Administering Organisation and more. The interactive visualisation lets you explore which Fields of Research have been funded in the scheme across years, and the proportion of funding allocated to HASS (Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects. For accessibility purposes, the data is also available in Microsoft Excel format.

The Discovery Indigenous scheme outcome visualisation shows that:

  • the average Discovery Indigenous grant has steadily increased from $385,075 in 2012 to $791,306 in 2021
  • the return rate (per cent of funds awarded in comparison with the amount requested) for Discovery Indigenous grants has remained reasonably stable between 63 and 77%
  • the Discovery Indigenous success rate has remained higher than the majority of ARC schemes at between 24 and 39%
  • the field of research with the highest number of applications since 2012 is Studies in Human Society, while the highest amount of funding has been awarded to projects in Medical and Health Sciences.

A recent example of a Discovery Indigenous funded project is The University of Queensland’s 'Building an Indigenist Health Humanities Collective', which was awarded $1.7 million in 2021. The project, led by Associate Professor Chelsea Bond, aims to develop Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of inquiry, building an intellectual collective capable of bridging the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality.

The targeted funding provided through the Discovery Indigenous scheme is in addition to the support provided through other NCGP schemes for research to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. Since 2013, $240 million has been awarded for 354 research projects on Indigenous matters across the NCGP. The number of awarded ARC grants identifying an Indigenous focus has increased in recent years from 29 in 2017 to 54 in 2020.

The ARC is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and research students have fair and equitable access to NCGP funding, with the aim of building a strong and engaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce. Since 2016, 186 Chief Investigators on funded projects have identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researchers across all ARC schemes. This is approximately 1% of all Chief Investigators. More information about the ARC’s support is available in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers and Research Statement.