Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Jessica White

Main Campus

Applications Close
31 Jul 2022

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$35,000 p.a. available to domestic applicants only

About this project

This research-based, creative writing project will focus on ‘Blackbirding’, the indentured labour system in place in Australia briefly in 1847, and more extensively between 1863 and 1904. This was a time when 62,000 people mainly from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands (then known as Kanakas) were taken to Queensland. While extensive research has been undertaken on the practice itself, little is known about the relationships and connections forged between South Sea Islanders and Australian First Nations Peoples. Specifically, some Vanuatu people are descended from Australian First Nations women, or children who accompanied South Sea Islander labourers at the conclusion of their contracts.

This project seeks to illuminate the history of blackbirding and the connections it created between Australian First Nations Peoples and the Pacific Islands, and to raise public awareness in Australia and neighbouring Pacific Islands of the historical and contemporary impact of blackbirding.

Applications will only be considered from Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islander Peoples for this position, under special measures pursuant to Section 56 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1984 (SA). You will be required to provide evidence of your Aboriginal and/or South Sea Islander heritage in your application.

What you’ll do

The successful applicant will focus on First Nations’ storytelling, particularly the relationships between Australian First Nations Peoples and South Sea Islanders. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will collaborate with First Nations communities through their research. While the project will largely take place on an individual level, community engagement will be critical to its formation, production and dissemination. The successful applicant will generate new research and a creative artefact relating to the cross-cultural connections between First Nations Peoples and South Sea Islanders in the context of blackbirding.

Upon completion of the project, the successful applicant will have created a work of publishable standard. They will have the capacity to undertake independent research, to engage with creative writing methodologies, and to create (if not already present) a track record of creative and critical publications. They will also have an understanding of the Australian literary industry and how to position themselves and their work within it.

The successful candidate will be supported by a supervisory team that has expertise in creative writing and First Nations research and storytelling. The principal supervisor is a leading practitioner of fiction and creative non-fiction, while the associate supervisors have extensive knowledge of First Nations storytelling and creative writing methodologies. Each of the supervisors have connections to industry.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based at UniSA Creative, a research environment that includes researchers across the spectrum of creative arts, from visual arts to architecture. The rich and diverse approaches to understanding and exploring the role of creative practice in contemporary experience is shared across the graduate research cohort.

The candidate will have the opportunity to travel and to engage with communities relevant to their research. They will be part of a cohort of researchers in a field of practice-based research, and will have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers via workshops and co-authorship of papers.

Some travel may be required to the Pacific Islands and Queensland, restrictions permitting.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $35,000 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.

Eligibility and Selection

Pursuant to Section 56 part 2 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (as amended) (SA) applications are invited from Australian Aboriginal peoples and/or those who identify as an Australian South Sea Islander who is a direct descendant of the South Sea Islanders brought into Queensland between 1863 and 1904 as indentured labourers. Australian Aboriginal Peoples will be required to provide evidence of their community connection in the application. South Sea Islander Peoples should seek a letter of support from a registered Australian South Sea Islander organisation verifying their Australian South Sea Islander heritage).

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:

  • Identify as an Australian Aboriginal and/or South Sea Islander person and possess a demonstrated understanding of the issues impacting on the provision of services to, and workforce considerations for, Aboriginal and/or South Sea Islander communities.
  • Applicants should submit a full research proposal (approximately 2500 words) that has been developed in consultation with the proposed lead supervisor. A template to help guide this application is available here.
  • Applicants should provide a sample of the creative writing, and where possible, also their critical writing (approximately 5000 words).
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to be based at our Magill Campus in the east of Adelaide.  Whilst a full-time candidate is ideally sought, part-time candidature will be considered.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available.  Applications close on Sunday 5 June 2022.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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