One PhD Stipend Scholarship is available for a highly motivated student to undertake research in one of four areas that align with the mission and goals of ACU Engagement: Family and domestic violence, transition to university for autistic students, student inclusivity in community engagement, or Positive Youth Development through sport for culturally diverse youth.
About ACU Engagement
At ACU, our commitment to community is part of the university mission. We value community engagement as a key means of advancing our mission in serving the common good and enhancing the dignity and wellbeing of people and communities. It is integral to our teaching, learning and research. Integral to our vision of community engagement are the five principles of building connections, acting with humility, developing understanding, affirming dignity, and pursuing justice. Please see our website for more information about ACU’s approach to community engagement.
About the PhD Stipend Scholarships
One PhD stipend scholarships is available for a suitable candidate to conduct research in one of the areas of expertise for ACU Engagement researchers. The four possible research topics to select from are described below.
Development and evaluation of a university project-based community engagement opportunity in the family and domestic violence (FDV) context that meets community needs [Relevant disciplines: Education, Psychology, Social Work]
Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) is a significant social problem in Australia. In 2018 at least two out of five assaults, over one-third of homicides, and one-third of sexual assaults in Australia were related to FDV (ABS, no. 4510.0, 2019). Although FDV affects both men and women it is a gendered form of violence, with women being six times more likely than men to be a victim of FDV-related sexual assault in Australia (ABS, no. 4510.0, 2019).
Community-engagement (CE) programs can act as a bridge between the classroom and professional environments. Literature detailing the role of CE in tertiary teaching of FDV has demonstrated the value of such programs in fostering empathy and providing real-world experience. Yet it is critical for a FDV-related CE program to be conducted in a sensitive manner that does not harm either the students completing the placement or the recipients of care in FDV organisations.
Primary data collection may involve surveys, interviews/focus groups and/or a Delphi study with FDV organisations to understand community needs. Secondary data collection may include an audit of existing CE opportunities in the FDV context.
The study may also involve the development and piloting of a project-based CE opportunity for university students that measures the reciprocal benefit of the program for community partners and students. Student measures may include changes in empathy and attitudes towards gender equality.
Contact: Dr Chloe Gordon for more information - email@example.com
How can autistic students be supported in their transition from school to university? [Relevant disciplines: Education, Psychology, Social Work, Occupational Therapy]
Of those autistic people who complete secondary school, only 19% receive a post school qualification – compared to 59% of those with any form of disability (ABS, 2012) and 68% of those without a disability (ABS, 2010).However, as our understanding of autism increases – and we very slowly break down the barriers to disclosure – it is increasingly clear that many autistic people can and do thrive at university with the right supports.This project seeks to understand the needs of autistic people to inform the creation of a ‘best practice’ support framework and development of a school-to-university transition program. Primary data collection may involve a mixed-method approach including surveys and follow-up interviews with parents, teachers, high school and university students and careers advisors. One of the outputs of this project may be the development of a CE placement where university students provide mentoring to autistic high school students and first year university students.
Contact: Prof Sandra Jones for more information - firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Inclusivity in university community engagement/service learning: Enhancing opportunities for transformation [Relevant disciplines: Education, Psychology, Social Work, Occupational Therapy]
This project seeks to understand the lived experiences of students with a disability in accessing and participating in mutually beneficial and transformational community engagement/service-learning opportunities.
- How do students who are differently abled experience such university programs?
- What are the enablers and barriers to a rich experience in these programs?
- How could community engagement/service-learning programs be adapted to be more inclusive?
The project would be informed by a systematic literature review (SLR) into CE/SL programs that have initiatives to be inclusive of students who are differently abled.
The project may then proceed to piloting and evaluating a university-based program that aims to increase the inclusivity of CE/SL programs.
The project may also include the evaluation of any existing programs or initiatives that aim to increase the inclusivity of CE/SL programs where feasible.
Contact: Prof Sandra Jones for more information - email@example.com
Positive Youth Development (PYD) through Sport programs for culturally diverse youth: Enhancing outcomes through a community engagement lens [Relevant disciplines: Sport Psychology, Exercise Science]
Although possessing many personal and community-based strengths, culturally diverse youth often experience educational disadvantage and marginalisation, and wider social marginalisation. Although sporting programs coupled with education are often seen as a means to improve personal, social, and physical outcomes for these youths, program outcomes are variable. Greater knowledge on how to effectively work with these youth in PYD through sport settings can contribute to mitigating the educational and social marginalisation experienced by these groups.
This project seeks to explore PYD through sport/Sport for development programs in level 4 income nations (e.g., Australia) and factors that appear to enhance PYD outcomes in personal, physical, and social domains. In level 4 income nations, sport coupled with education programs are often used to enhance PYD outcome for culturally diverse youth (e.g., refugee and migrant, minority ethnic group) where these groups have experienced disadvantage or marginalisation. However, there is exists a need to understand more deeply the factors that enhance PYD outcomes. In addition to the Holt et al. (2017) model of PYD through sport, contemporary approaches to university-community engagement may also help to elucidate conditions that lead to PYD outcomes.
The project may begin with a systematic literature review on university based PYD through sport/SFD programs in level 4 income countries.
The project may then proceed with a comparative case study of PYD programs designed to elicit PYD among culturally diverse youth in a Level 4 nation incorporating the Holt et al (2017) model of PYD through sport and contemporary university-community engagement theory. This would be to contribute new insights to the effective operation of PYD programs.
The project may also include the active involvement in the development and evaluation of new PYD through sport programs via participatory approaches.
Contact: Dr Matthew Pink for more information - firstname.lastname@example.org
PhD Eligibility criteria
The eligibility criteria for the PhD program at ACU can be found in the Higher Degree Research Regulations
- Highly motivated, with a strong interest in working with vulnerable communities
- Excellent English written and verbal communication skills
- An Honours or Research Masters degree in a relevant discipline
- Experience in writing publications in peer reviewed journals
Study mode and location
- Full-time for three (3) years based at ACU's Brisbane or Melbourne campus, Australia, commencing Research Term C, 2021 or Research Term A, 2022.
Value and duration of Scholarship
- a tax-free stipend of $27,596 per annum (indexed annually) for three (3) years, subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode; and
- funding for project costs; and
- a Research Training Program Fees Offset Scholarship (that is, a tuition fee waiver) for domestic candidates.
Closing date for applications
23 June 2021
How to apply
This scholarship is open to domestic applicantsonly, that is Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents and New Zealand Citizens.
Interested candidates should contact the nominated academic before submitting an application for the PhD program and this scholarship. Refer to the supervisory team descriptions for research interests.
- For applicants who are not currently enrolled in a research degree at ACU, visit the ACU Research webpage for instructions on how to submit an application
- For applicants who are currently enrolled in a research degree at ACU, please download the application form for currently enrolled candidates from Orion.
Applicants must submit all documentation required for an application to the PhD program at ACU, as detailed in the ‘How to Apply’ instructions on the ACU Research Web Page, plus:
For more information contact
For information regarding the application process email Candidature Services (email@example.com), with the subject line ‘Community Engagement PhD Scholarship’