PhD scholarship on indigenous Australians’ access to birth registration and birth certificates

A PhD scholarship to undertake research on indigenous Australians’ access to birth registration and birth certificates is available for a suitably qualified candidate with a background in human rights law or legal or social science.

The successful candidate will be based at Monash University (Clayton Campus) and will receive a yearly non-taxable stipend of AUD$27,222 for three years of full-time candidature.


Applicants should be Australian permanent residents or citizens of Australia or New Zealand preferably with a relevant first class undergraduate honours degree or a masters degree with a significant research component. 

Expression of interest

For further details and expression of interest, e-mail by 12 December 2011.


There is growing body of evidence that a significant number of Indigenous Australians do not have a birth certificate. In Victoria, in 2008, 2.5 per cent of all births were unregistered. This equates to 1,841 unregistered children. This is a significant number in a wealthy developed country such as Australia. Under registration of births is a well known problem in developing nations, but until recently was thought to be a non-issue in Australia. It is not known what percentage of these 1,841 births were Indigenous children, but the highest number of unregistered births come from regional areas with significant Indigenous communities, such as Shepparton, Traralgon West and Mildura. The problem of under-registration of Indigenous births is not confined to Victoria.

About the project

This novel project (funded by an ARC Linkage grant) will be the first in-depth empirical investigation into the extent of the problem of under-registration of Indigenous births, and the underlying causes, and to develop culturally appropriate responses.

The project will inform policy relating to the birth registration systems operating throughout Australia.  The PhD component of the project will be developed in consultation with the successful candidate, but may include components such as:

  • Undertaking a comprehensive literature review;
  • Conducting interviews and focus groups with Indigenous Australians and key stakeholders regarding the causes and effect of non-registration of Indigenous births around Australia;
  • Analysing the qualitative data collected through interviews and focus groups.
  • Examining birth registration systems in other countries; and
  • Identifying, in consultation with Indigenous communities, appropriate reforms to address the underlying causes of birth registration/birth certificate problems encountered by Indigenous Australians.

The candidate will be supervised by senior academics within the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University.

The project will involve close interaction with Indigenous Australians.

We particularly encourage applications from Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.