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Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Investigating and Supporting Aboriginal children’s transition from home to school in remote communities

Status: Closed

Applications open: 7/07/2023
Applications close: 25/08/2023

View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

The project will develop a research-informed education program to support ‘underprivileged’ Aboriginal pre-school children living in remote areas successfully transitioning to school. This project will be developed in consultation with identified stakeholders to inform the collaborative practice-informed research and research-informed practice. The research team will consist of education researchers, Aboriginal consultants from AISWA, principals and teachers from remote schools and early childhood centres, and community members including parents/caregivers. The project has been co-designed with Professor Graeme Gower, an Aboriginal academic. We have also engaged in initial consultations with AISWA and principals of Aboriginal community schools. The project scope has been identified as an issue in desperate need of attention by principals of Aboriginal Community Schools   and as an area for collaborative partnership. The project will be further co-designed with Aboriginal people: parents and community members in remote communities are central to our planned iterative co-design process. Our aim is to have a First Nations principal, or teacher, develop their PhD research as part of the research team. The research approach will be linked to Indigenous Research genres. It will build upon studies (e.g., Dattta 2018; Caxaj 2015) that have identified the symbiotic and synergistic relationships that can exist between Participatory Action Research and Indigenous storytelling to facilitate culturally sensitive research, build trust and ensure a decolonizing methodology 

This Research will:
• Investigate opportunities, challenges and needs to support Aboriginal children in remote areas to transition from home to school and early childhood educational settings.
• Identify connections to support transitioning:
o between ‘formal’ literacy and ‘family’ literacy’; 
o based on different ways of knowing, cultural and social capital and cultural dimensions surrounding ethno-literacy.
• Establish how embodied knowledge and Creative Arts can be used as a bridge between informal and formal educational settings. 

Through collaborative program design, the team's objective will  be to work with groups of children in pre-school contexts and their parents. It is anticipated that direct intervention will have a positive impact on childrens’ transition from home to school, as well as on early/emergent literacy and overall development. Observations will continue to identify factors that have a positive impact and any further changes or additions to optimise the program. This project will provide a useful framework for Aboriginal children in other geographic locations. However, as the research team does not subscribe to a ‘one size fits all’ program this would need re-framing for other areas and may be a part of the PhD study.

The research is about investigating and supporting transitioning from home to school in remote communities. There will be a component of directly working with Aboriginal children, recognizing what they bring with them to school and hearing their voices. As such, the project will have a direct impact on 3-to-5-year olds. Because there is a component of family literacy embedded in this project, it will also have an indirect impact on younger children. 

This program aims to improve the educational outcomes of underprivileged pre-school Aboriginal children by providing them with holistic creative arts and literacy education at a crucial transition time. This can help to develop their cognitive, social, and emotional skills, which can prepare them for formal schooling.

In addition, through a respectful, co-designed program, a connection to culture and community will be nurtured through the incorporation of cultural activities, language, and traditions into learning. This can help to promote a sense of pride and identity, which is important for overall well-being, self-esteem, mental health and development. The program involves parents in their children's learning and development, which will increase parental engagement in education and improve the nexus between the home and school learning environment. This can lead to improved educational outcomes and better long-term outcomes for children.

The project aligns directly with Curtin’s 2030 strategic aim of: “actively partnering with First Nations people and raising their voices and perspective to enable new ways of working together”.

The three strategic objectives, namely, First Nation Voices and Perspective, Strong Relationships and Community Outcomes can all be found within this project, as well as links to People, Planet and Partnerships.

As a university, we honour our social responsibility to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in ways that value their culture and heritage and elevate their voices and perspectives. Through this project we seek to forge strong, authentic community partnerships to deliver real engagement and sustainable outcomes for our communities. The space for a PhD scholarship within this important project will contribute to the significance 

This project may provide an internship opportunity. Internship with one of our partner schools or centres is highly possible. 

  • Future Students
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa
  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships at the 2023 RTP rate valued at $32,250 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3 years, with a possible 6-month completion scholarship. Applicants are determined via a competitive selection process and will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2023. 

For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

A First Nations Candidate
• An interest in and commitment to Arts education and/or Early Childhood.
• Appropriate qualifications for acceptance to the Curtin Higher Degree by
Research (HDR) program
• Exemplary English Language Proficiency and organisational skills
• Ability to work well within a team in collaborative projects as well as capacity
to work independently 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form. ahead of the closing date. Please note you should apply as soon as possible, as once a suitable candidate has been identified this opportunity will no longer be available to receive an EOI.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2024.

Recipients must complete their milestone 1 within 6 months of enrolment and remain enrolled on a full-time basis for the duration of the scholarship.


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead Carol Carter via the EOI form above.

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