2020-21 Grant round priorities

Research theme 1: Valuing Indigenous knowledge and methods 

This theme explores the need for systemic change in how the Australian society can better respect and appropriately utilise Indigenous knowledge systems and operating patterns; and thereby inform our understanding of institutions and structures.

Topics under this theme could include:

  • The nature and importance of Indigenous ways of knowing and being – insights and approaches – related to governance, business and community service.
  • The contribution that Indigenous knowledge and intelligence can make to scientific research and to our understanding of the Australian environment.

Research theme 2: Cultural resurgence and resilience

Governments continue to struggle with how to measure cultural indicators of wellbeing and to understand the centrality of cultural strength to the enjoyment and fulfilment of life; yet this link is self-evident for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

Topics under this theme could include:

  • Examining the correlation between cultural strength and individual and community resilience and success, for example in the areas of health, education and employment, as well as engagement with the criminal justice system, and social and political participation.
  • Contemporary expressions of Indigenous identity and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives might change over time.
  • Capturing innovation and world leading  of best practice programs in cultural revitalisation.

Research theme 3: Indigenous governance and prosperity 

The continued emergence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the governance of their traditional territories provides an opportunity for innovation in regional and local governance; while notions of Indigenous nationhood and relationships with the state continue to challenge our understanding of a reconciled Australia.  

Topics under this theme could include: 

  • The economic, social and cultural benefits that could be derived from effective governance arrangements coupled with ideas around regional autonomy.
  • Realising the potential of Indigenous held land and waters, including models of Indigenous-led development and multi-faceted conceptions of wealth.
  • The potential contribution of treaties or agreements to social fabric and economic security.

Research theme 4: Rethinking engagement with governments

Involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in making decisions affecting their lives and communities is central to real engagement. The challenge remains for governments to better grasp place-based knowledge to inform engagement strategies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in order to improve the development of policies and service provision and at the same time understanding when to step out of the way and allow communities to drive local solutions.  

Topics under this theme could include:

  • Examination of best practice co-design principles for Indigenous research and evaluation, government policy-making, and economic and social investment.
  • Examples of community action on complex social issues that in turn builds local capabilities and confidence. 
  • Models of local priority setting and strategic planning leading to investment and creative partnerships. 

Research theme 5: Opportunities provided by technological change

The advances and expansion of technological systems and modes offers challenges to all communities but also invites significant opportunities to be accessed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, businesses and nation groups.  

Topics under this theme could include:

  • The impact of technology, including knowledge management systems, to support the social, cultural and economic aspirations of Indigenous peoples.
  • Expression of design principles for information and communication technology systems that support Indigenous users, including those in remote communities.
  • Innovative use of existing data and archival material to shed light on contemporary issues and ideas, including creative expressions.


Last reviewed: 3 Sep 2020