NHMRC has committed to funding a National Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers as part of responding to Road Map 3: A strategic framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through research. 

The Network will need to bring together many different organisations. This document is intended to provide interested parties with the information that will allow initial discussions about collaborations or consortia to occur, while the final details and approvals for this call are being determined. 

NHMRC intends to support a single collaborative National Network through this call. The Network is intended to create one inclusive system that brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research groups and their support networks to create a structure that builds capacity and capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers. Capacity refers to the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers while capability refers to the skills, networks, knowledge and competitiveness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers. The Network will also work towards providing a voice for Indigenous health researchers, empowering communities and nurturing national and international collaborations to improve Indigenous health. 

Key activities will include linking people and organisations to support one another in research, mentoring, publications, funding, translation and advocacy to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research at all levels. Strategically, the Network should attempt to establish itself as a sustainable entity beyond the five-year funding period, and make strong connections with the health and research systems (e.g. with Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, other networks, research environments or organisations). 

The Network should have the following key attributes and objectives: 

  1. Good governance and leadership with a shared national vision. 
  2. Translate research evidence into policy and practice.
  3. Well-resourced and sustainable. 
  4. Build the workforce to enhance and strengthen capacity and capability of Indigenous researchers.
  5. Indigenous-led and connected through existing networks to facilitate conversations. 
  6. Collaborative, sharing and nurturing environment to support Indigenous researchers.
  7. Valuing Indigenous knowledges and the creation of excellence within that framework. 
  8. Community focussed and valuing diversity and inclusion. 
  9. Culturally secure environment to support Indigenous researchers in their work. 

These details represent the outcomes of two consultative workshops with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and related organisations in 2018. The reports from these workshops have been published on NHMRC’s website.

Proposed application process

NHMRC intends to fund the Network through an expression of interest, seed funding and full application process as follows (Figure 1): 
Expressions of Interest (EOI) and assessment by a panel.

  1. A shortlist of EOI applicants to be interviewed by the panel. (The interviews are held to allow the applicants to elaborate on their plans and to explain the nuances of their proposed National Network that would be difficult to communicate in concise written format.)
  2. A small number of successful EOI applicants will be provided with feedback and $35,000 seed funding to establish collaborations, conduct meetings and develop a single Network proposal with other seed-funded groups.
  3. A workshop will be held to allow the seed-funded grantees to meet, present and learn of the goals of all seed-funded applicants. Permission will be sought from successful applicants for their EOIs to be shared amongst the other successful EOI recipients. 
  4. A single proposal for a Network will be due to NHMRC at the completion of the period (around three months) for assessment by an expert panel. Full funding of up to $10 million will be available to support the Network over five years. 

Applications will need to be led by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. EOIs will only be accepted from consortia of organisations.

Expression of Interest

Applicants would be required to address specific questions as part of their Expression of Interest (EOI) application. The word limit would be 2000 words. 

Applicants could be asked to outline different aspects of their proposal, including vision, innovation, capacity building and research translation, sustainability, governance and leadership, and community engagement.

Indicative Timeline (subject to change) 

Activity Date
Call for EOI 4 December 2019
EOI due to NHMRC 12 February 2020
EOI reviewed by panel; interviews held Feb-Mar 2020
Seed funding offered Early Jul 2020
Workshop for successful EOI applicants Jul-Aug 2020
Full proposal due 30 September 2020
Application review  Oct-Nov 2020
Full funding released Dec 2020
Reporting and review Annually from 2021
Evaluation and final report  2025-2026