Advancing emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship within QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre (3 PhD scholarships: $42,500 p/a, 3 years FTE)

The DMRC is advertising 3 PhD scholarships available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Areas of study that align with this opportunity include: media studies, communication, digital media studies, journalism, news, visual communication, Indigenous methodologies, visual sovereignty and social media.  

About the DMRC 

The Digital Media Research Centre is a global leader in digital humanities and social science research, particularly in digital methods and social media. As one of Australia’s top organisations for media and communication research, the DMRC offers researchers a vibrant and supportive culture with strong existing links to Indigenous communities and researchers. In the past five years, the DMRC has hosted four DECRAs, two Future Fellowships, a Laureate Fellowship, 12 Discovery projects, 11 Linkage projects, and is home to the second-largest node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S). This year, three DECRA fellows (2023) are now advertising Indigenous PhD scholarships to commence in semester 1 or 2 of 2023. 

QUT was recognised as 1st in Australia, and 16th in the world, for media and communication studies in the 2021 QS World University rankings. QUT is the only university in Australia that has received the top ranking for communication and media studies in every Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) round since 2010. Within this environment, PhD students will benefit from an environment of excellence, culturally supportive supervision and flexibility to allow students to balance studies with community and life commitments. 

Indigenous Research at the DMRC 

The successful applicant will join a research community with existing strengths and ongoing projects related to regional/rural communities, news, media, and journalism, everyday online culture, online safety, and Indigenous communities. 

The DMRC provides a supportive research environment for PhD students, who will be part of an interdisciplinary cohort of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars. PhD students will be connected to a research environment that produces projects informed by social justice principles, and Indigenous research projects such as: 

Application dates 

Applications close: 6 January 2023 (for semester 1 start) or 6 March 2023 (for semester 2 start) 

What you’ll receive 

You will receive a scholarship that includes: 

  • a tax-free living stipend of $42,500 per annum 
  • a full tuition fee offset 
  • Supervision team options that include Indigenous supervisors of your choosing 

The scholarship will be provided for an initial period of 3 years, and may be extended by up to 6 months, subject to satisfactory progression. 

About the scholarships 

  • Scholarship 1 (Visual news): Journalism is vital to the public good, but regional and remote communities lack the same access to local news as their urban counterparts. This is especially true for local visual news, which is often an afterthought despite its importance in creating high-quality news content, engaging audiences, and shaping public perceptions. This project observes local journalists at work and evaluates their output against the needs expressed by their communities, thus facilitating a much-needed conversation between local journalists and audiences. In doing so, it defines what quality local visual news is, and through local newsroom briefings and events co-hosted with industry provides guidance on how journalists can best produce it. This project evaluates local visual news in eight communities across the country, including several with higher-than-average Indigenous populations. For more information about this scholarship or application process, contact Dr TJ Thomson. 
  • Scholarship 2 (Expanding Indigenous digital and visual methodologies): This project will examine and develop new Indigenous digital research methods, including digital storytelling on social media, (Instagram, TikTok and Twitter) and moving image media. This PhD project expands upon the photoyarn Indigenous research method, and explores how social media and digital spaces expand the possibilities of Indigenous storytelling, especially by young people. Drawing on concepts of visual sovereignty and relatedness, this important project will have an impact on Indigenous communities, by expanding visual research methods currently developed with and by Indigenous young people and the communities of which they are a part, toward community-led research projects able to be conducted by young people themselves. For more information about this scholarship or application process, contact Dr Jessa Rogers (Wiradjuri).
  • Scholarship 3 (Humour & Social Media): This project will examine ‘Blackfulla humour’ on social media and how digital platforms deal with this form of expression. The project considers and aims to help preserve the role of humour in wellbeing and in speaking back to power. The importance of social media for Indigenous movement-building means it is important to protect jokes that take aim at patriarchal, racist, and colonial structures, even if these interventions play with tactics like shaming, linguistic appropriation of sexist and racist slurs, and humiliation that might offend (rather than harm) privileged audiences. The anticipated outcomes include workable principles for better content moderation that will be crucial to informing digital platforms’ approach to different cultural contexts. For more information about this scholarship or application process, contact Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández. 

All three projects have scope to consider broader and additional/aligned questions to be decided upon by successful applicants. Projects will be supported by Indigenous Australian academics or industry professionals through the supervisory team, through opportunities to connect with individuals who are willing to provide support through external advisory groups and committees, or via another mechanism chosen in consultation with applicants. The DMRC can commit to providing an Indigenous supervisor/panel member for each of the three scholarships being advertised. 


You must: 

  • meet QUT academic and English language entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy 
  • have a background in Communications, Digital Media, Journalism, Indigenous Studies or related discipline/s 
  • enrol as an internal, full-time student 
  • be able to commence in early or mid 2023 
  • Be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person, meeting the following criteria: 

Be of Australian Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander descent; 

Identify as an Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander; and 

Be accepted as such by the community in which you live or have lived. 

QUT’s minimum standard of acceptable evidence to confirm the above criteria must be one of the following: 

  •  a Confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent document provided by an incorporated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation, stamped with the organisation’s common seal 
  • a copy of their parent’s Confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent document, along with a copy of the student’s birth certificate showing parent’s name/s  
  • a letter (or evidence) from a Native Title Prescribed Bodies Corporate or Aboriginal Land Trust, registered with the National Native Title Tribunal confirming they are a Land Trustee or native title holder, or 
  • a Statutory Declaration declaring their Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander descent  accompanied by one of the following: 
  • a letter from an Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander Education Worker or Community Counsellor from the school they attended; or 
  • evidence of previous acceptance of the student’s Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander descent from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support centre at another university or TAFE institution 
  • a letter signed by an executive leader or board member of an incorporated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation on the organisation’s letterhead 
  • a letter signed by an elected Councillor from a community within the Torres Strait Island Regional Council Local Government Area on the organisation’s letterhead; or 
  • a letter from an executive leader or board member at Link Up QLD or another Indigenous Australian family reunification service on the organisation’s letterhead. 

How to apply 

If you’re interested in applying for any of these three opportunities, please contact Dr T.J. Thomson (Scholarship 1), Dr Jessa Rogers (Scholarship 2) or Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández (Scholarship 3). 

Submitting your Expression of Interest (EOI): 

You must also submit an expression of interest (EOI) for your preferred scholarship for consideration before applying for this scholarship. 

Your EOI must: 

  • Indicate what specific scholarship/s you’re interested in (Scholarship 1, 2 or 3): specify which scholarship/s you would like to apply for in question 2 of the Financial Details section of the application form. 
  • Have Dr Jessa Rogers, Dr T.J. Thomson or Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández listed as your proposed supervisor depending on the project you’re most interested in. 

Once you have submitted your EOI, you may be directed to submit an application. Steps for application to QUT research degrees can be found on the Apply for a Research Degree webpage. 


The scholarship will be governed by the QUT Indigenous Postgraduate Research Award (IPRA) conditions, however the value of these scholarships (1, 2 and 3) will be $42,500 per annum each.