Enhancing Aboriginal practice to support the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan

Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Lead Researcher: Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, and Associate Professor Paul Rymer

About the project

Western Sydney University is offering a Yarramundi Master of Research (MRes) scholarship to a highly motivated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander MRes candidate to contribute to a $1.8 million collaborative research program designed to inform the cultural, conservation and restoration outcomes in the in peri-urban landscapes across Western Sydney. The research will support the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan, offering the MRes candidate a unique opportunity to conduct research that will have a positive impact on Western Sydney’s ecological and cultural heritage.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and skilled MRes candidate to develop a research program addressing knowledge gaps as identified within the draft Research Strategy objective “enhancing Aboriginal knowledges and practices”. Connection to Country for Aboriginal peoples is important for cultural, social and environmental reasons. Aboriginal practices have been developed over a long history of living with, managing, and serving the land. It is critical to reconnect Aboriginal knowledges and practices belonging to Country.

Projects could focus on understanding Aboriginal knowledge systems, language and song-lines, the importance of interrelated species, places and Country, cultural burns to reconnect people to Country, or natural harvesting by local Aboriginal groups for cultural, social and environmental benefits through different social, cultural and/or scientific approaches.

The candidate will develop projects with supervisors based at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE), and the Institute for Society and Culture (ICS), which are world-leading research institutes with strong reputations for delivering research outcomes of the highest quality, and with co-supervisors from collaborating institutions, including the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. The Office of DVC Indigenous Leadership and the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education will provide the candidate mentoring.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic students will receive a tax-free stipend of AUD$50,000 per annum for up to 2 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as approved by School/Institute.

International applicants are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants, who are keen to apply their skills to key issues in enhancing Aboriginal practices to support cultural, conservation and restoration in the Cumberland Plain. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in Aboriginal knowledge systems, Aboriginal languages and song-lines, connections with land, plants and animals, cultural management, conservation and/or restoration of biodiversity.

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian Bachelor degree, (ii) equivalent qualifications, or (iii) relevant work experience.
  • demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to cultural, social and environmental practices.
  • have an understanding or appreciation of the importance of Aboriginal knowledges and practices in relation to conservation and restoration.
  • be willing to learn approaches applicable to studying biodiversity, ecology, and/or society and culture.
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

How to apply

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship page.

* Note: You do not need to complete 'Step 5: Submit an online application for admission' when applying for this scholarship. You must complete 'Step 6: Submit an online application for a project scholarship'.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

For questions and advice regarding Aboriginal support and mentoring for the successful candidate, please contact

  • Professor Gawaian - Bodkin-Andrews (Director of Indigenous Research): g.bodkinandrews@westernsydney.edu.au and,
  • Associate Professor Paul Rymer (Senior Lecturer in Plant Ecology): P.Rymer@westernsydney.edu.au

for further information on the topics of research.

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School: grs.scholarships@westernsydney.edu.au

Applications close 31 January 2024

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

Scholarship reference code: PS2024_031_HIE