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PhD Scholarship in Indigenous Knowledge: Bushfire Recovery/On Country Design/Learning and/or Caring for Country

Job No.: 628680

Location: Caufield campus

Employment Type: Full-time

Duration: 3-year and 3-month fixed-term appointment

Remuneration: The successful applicant will receive a Research Living Allowance at current value of $29,500 per annum 2021 full-time rate (tax-free stipend), indexed plus allowances as per RTP stipend scholarship conditions at:

The Opportunity

The Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab along with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) invite applications for a fully funded, 3.25-year PhD scholarship for commencement in 2022 offered by Monash University. The successful applicant will be based at the Caulfield campus (Melbourne), of Monash University Australia.

The PhD candidate will contribute to Fire to Flourish, a 5-year partnership program between Monash University, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Metal Manufactures Pty Ltd, and The Australian Centre for Social Innovation. The Program was formed in response to the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires and aims to build resilience in communities experiencing entrenched disadvantage that were affected by the bushfires. Transdisciplinary research teams from Monash University’s Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) are leading this program in collaboration with partner communities. 

The Fire to Flourish Program will develop an inclusive, participatory and evidence-based model for strengthening resilience across social, built, natural, institutional and economic domains. The Program has a significant focus on supporting communities to lead their own local initiatives and connect with each other to create the capacity, conditions and solutions for their long-term resilience. The underlying principles for the program are to: be community-led; foreground Indigenous Knowledge, enhance inclusion and self-determination; be strengths-based and trauma-informed; be holistic and impactful; learn, adapt and evolve.

The PhD candidate will design their own research project under the broader objectives and principles of the Fire to Flourish Program, which builds on their previous experience and established strengths in research, community development, co-design and/or creative practice. Indigenous research methodologies and ways of knowing will ground this PhD project, and may include fieldwork with bushfire-affected communities, collaboration with Indigenous Knowledge holders, and/or creative practice/co-design research methods and outputs. 

The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Desiree Ibinarriaga and will work closely with the research team based at Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab including lab director Professor Brian Martin and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow assigned to the project. The candidate will also be part of the larger transdisciplinary research network including CEO of the Fire to Flourish Program Associate Professor Briony Rogers, the Fire to Flourish Research and System Change Lead Dr Cathy Wilkinson, and a dedicated Project Coordinator – Indigenous Engagement at the MSDI along with partner communities.

Further information about the program and research environment

The Fire to Flourish Program is led by Monash University one of Australia’s largest universities which regularly ranks in the top 100 universities worldwide. Utilising the expertise and knowledge of research teams at the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), the Program aims to develop an evidence-based model for community-led recovery and resilience building. Working in deep partnership with four communities across New South Wales and Victoria affected by the 2019/20 Australian bushfire season, Fire to Flourish aims to support communities over a 5-year period to lead their own recovery, co-create foundations for long-term resilience and wellbeing, and disrupt cycles of entrenched disadvantage. The program is funded by Monash University, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Metal Manufactures Pty Ltd, and The Australian Centre for Social Innovation. For more information visit:

Established in 2019 in Monash’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab is leading research that aims to articulate the synergies between Indigenous ways of knowing with practice led research specifically in the areas of art, design and architecture, and beyond. Recently funded projects such as the “Treelines-Kulin Nations” (funded by Creative Victoria) and “More than a guulany (tree): Aboriginal knowledge systems” (funded by the Australian Research Council) demonstrate the lab’s strength in Indigenous-led and creative practice research. There is a growing cohort of graduate researchers at Wominjeka Djeembana, with 15 PhD and Masters by Research candidates active in 2021. This dynamic research environment is supported by established Indigenous creative practitioners including Professor Brian Martin, Associate Professor Brook Andrew, Dr Desiree Ibinarriaga and Dr Peta Clancy along with Boon Wurrung Elder N’Arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM. For more information visit:

The Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) is a leading interdisciplinary research and education institute with over 150 staff and PhD students. By collaborating with government, industry, academic and civil society partners to build knowledge and capacity, and drive practical change, the MSDI is identifying pathways and innovative solutions to help the world achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For more information visit:

Professor Brian Martin is a descendant of Bundjalung, MurraWarri and Kamilaroi peoples, a leading arts practitioner and theorist, and director of the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab at the Monash Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (MADA). Martin is a world leader in methods of collaborative design with Indigenous stakeholders as demonstrated in his work on the award-winning Australian and International Indigenous Design Charters. Martin has extensive track record managing and delivering impactful outputs from funded projects and recently received the Vice Chancellor’s Excellence Award for research impact. Since 2000, Professor Martin has mentored close to 150 Indigenous students in undergraduate and postgraduate studies in a range of disciplines including fine arts, design, anthropology, health, law and education.

Dr Desiree Ibinarriaga is a collaborative design lecturer at Monash Art, Design and Architecture, unit coordinator for Indigenous Research Methods and researcher with the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab. Mexican-Indigenous Mestiza, Desiree is a passionate designer, researcher and educator with over 14 years of experience in the design field. Her research focuses on better ways of partnership and communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through design and since 2012, she has collaborated with diverse Indigenous communities and universities in Mexico and Australia on collaborative design outcomes. 

Associate Professor Briony Rogers is the Director of MSDI Water and CEO of the Fire to Flourish Program where she is leading a transdisciplinary team of researchers, practitioners and community members to advance community-led disaster resilience through a focus on strengthening community leadership, capabilities and social capital. Briony is also the Director of MSDI Water, leading a team of boundary spanning experts in water, sustainability, governance and system change. In her previous role as Chief Research Officer for the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Briony oversaw interdisciplinary research on economics, planning, governance, transitions, modelling, urban design, urban heat and groundwater.

Cathy Wilkinson is a Practice Professor at MSDI and the Fire to Flourish Research and System Change Lead. She is a leader with 25 years transformation experience in the environment, water and urban planning sectors driving major policy, organisational and operational sustainability reforms. Cathy enables rapid sustainability transitions by bridging the gap between research and practice as an advisor, academic and senior public servant. Most recently she was CEO of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for the Victorian Government, Australia.

Candidate Requirements

The successful applicant will have a deep interest and engagement with Indigenous-led processes in areas relevant to the Program such as community development, urban planning, creative practice, design or environmental science demonstrated in academic, practice-based, industry or community settings. 

Prior training and experience in relevant research areas will be of benefit to the candidate but is not essential. In line with the aims and ethic of the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab, the successful candidate will have opportunities to build skills and experience and grow research capacity over the three-year period supported by the wider research team. Relevant areas of experience include conducting qualitative or ethnographic research in an academic or practice-based setting; experience in innovative Indigenous research methods and approaches; familiarity with models of community development and disaster management. 

In its assessment, the selection committee will prioritise applicants who hold an Australian (or equivalent international) Honour’s or Master’s degree (in a relevant field), with a significant research component and with first or second class honours or a practitioner or researcher with significant creative, community or industry based experience in related fields.

The successful applicant will be expected to enrol by 1 March 2022, however, there may be some flexibility as to the date of commencement.

Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

EOIs shall comprise:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant’s suitability
  • A brief research proposal not exceeding 750 words in length that fits within the broad project aims and objectives, and demonstrates some understanding of the area of research
  • A curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works, conference presentations and relevant work experience
  • A full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified documentation
  • Contact details of two academic referees

It is important that you contact Professor Brian Martin or Dr Desiree Ibinarriaga prior to submission of the EOI to discuss the project.

EOIs should be sent, preferably in the form of a single attachment.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed (over Skype/zoom if necessary). The interviews will be conducted in English.

In the context of COVID-19, the University is required to comply with various health directions issued from time to time by the Chief Health Officer. Further information concerning vaccination requirements and the obligations on Monash University to collect, record and hold vaccination information about employees is available at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria, please select COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions.


Enquiries should be addressed to Professor Brian Martin or Dr Desiree Ibinarriaga

Closing Date

Wednesday 23 February 2022, 11:55pm AEDT


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