This announcement is courtesy of the University of Western Sydney, Graduate Research School.

School of Health Sciences
Lead Researcher: Doctor Andrew Bennie
Co-researchers: Doctor Sarah Kennedy and Doctor Paul Perkins

About the project

Western Sydney University is offering a PhD research scholarship to a highly motivated candidate. The research addresses Indigenous experiences of sport leadership roles within Australian high performance sport settings. The project is co-funded through the Australian Institute of Sport, Western’s Graduate Research School, and will be supervised by Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics.

This is the first academic study of its kind to explore how current structures of the sports industry facilitate and/or restrict equitable opportunities for Indigenous peoples in a variety of ‘off-field’ high performance careers. The goal is to inform new perspectives about sport leadership that have previously failed to include Indigenous worldviews. A Doctoral level Indigenous student will be recruited to work with Indigenous communities and the sports industry to build a whole-of-sport picture about pathways into, and experiences of, various non-playing sport roles. Informed by Indigenous and Western methodologies, the researcher will work with and alongside numerous Indigenous sports officials, sport scientists, and managers across multiple high performance sporting environments. The findings from this project will be used to co-develop action plans, policies, and resources, that better support Indigenous peoples who aspire to maintain connection with, or gain employment in, the sports industry.

Sport-based research programs at Western Sydney University are ranked within the top 120 worldwide in the subject discipline, with a strong reputation for delivering research outcomes driven by community partners and the sports industry. The project will be based within the School of Health Sciences at Penrith and presents an opportunity to work with Indigenous community partners and supervisors in a world-first study. Using novel research techniques to generate an in-depth understanding of the Indigenous experiences in non-playing roles, this project aims to inform policy and generate more equitable opportunities for Indigenous peoples to gain meaningful education and employment within sporting organisations.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 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 the School of Health Sciences.

International applicants are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds who are keen to undertake a detailed investigation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sport participation. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, social justice, sport for social change, high performance sport, and qualitative methodologies.

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following: (i) an Australian First-Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • demonstrate strong academic performance or interest in subjects related to the field of sport studies including any of the following: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sport participation, sport coaching, sport officiating, sport for development, talent development, high performance sport, health and physical education.
  • have a clear understanding of the importance of in-depth, community driven research principles and ethical approaches to conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and sport industry partners.
  • have a sound understanding of, or willingness to learn in more detail about, Australia’s history, with specific insights into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and experiences over time.
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

International applicants are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

You must be onshore in Australia and ready to commence the scholarship prior to 01 December 2021. You can only defer from this date with written approval from the Graduate Research School.

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 about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher;
Doctor Andrew Bennie:

Alternatively, you can also contact Doctor Sarah Kennedy ( or Doctor Paul Perkins ( to discuss the project.

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School:

Applications close 31 October 2021

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