Jilbay Research Higher Degree Academy

The Jilbay Research Higher Degree Academy is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research-focused community of practice hosted within the Jawun Research Centre and the Office of Indigenous Engagement (OIE) in collaboration with the School of Graduate Research. The Academy is the first internally funded Academy of its kind for any Australian University. It aims to build the research capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Higher Degree (RHD) candidates and their supervisors by developing and undertaking Indigenous research projects and establishing partnerships in collaboration with other CQUniversity Schools, Research Centres, and Institutes.

Jilbay means old peoples' wisdom, and in every essence of the word, it’s the sharing of old people’s wisdom that makes students clever (Jilbaybili), likewise making supervisors/fellows more culturally clever (Jilbaymali). Therefore, Jilbaybili (students) and Jilbaymali (supervisors) are the two critical components of the Jilbay RHD Academy.

Originally named First Nations Research Higher Degree Academy, the Academy underwent a name change with formal endorsement from the Dean of School of Graduate Research. To better reflect the research that Jawun Research Centre and CQUniversity First Nations staff and students are engaged in, the Academy has been renamed Jilbay Research Higher Degree (RHD) academy. Jilbay is a Jirrbal word from Far North Queensland gifted by the Jirrbal Elders to Professor Adrian Miller, the academy’s Director.

The primary role of the Academy is to:

  1. Build research capacity and resilience within a cohort model for First Nations Research Higher Degree students to complete their studies
  2. Build the capacity of CQUniversity staff to appropriately supervise First Nations Research Higher Degree students

The overall objective of the Academy is to grow capacity for research undertaken by Indigenous candidates, and in Indigenous research more generally, in an inclusive and supported environment. Specifically, to:

  • Support existing and future First Nations RHD candidates with a specific focus on addressing the known barriers to Indigenous RHD completions (as evidenced by the literature and lived experience of current and previous candidates);
  • Grow CQUniversity capacity in Indigenous RHD supervision and the application of Indigenous research methodologies (including human research ethics), with a focus on best practice; and
  • Contribute to CQUniversity’s overall impact in Indigenous Research, including research quality, engagement, and a priority on research with and for the benefit of Indigenous communities.

Academy Support

A range of events and activities including regular Academy zoom sessions, guest speakers, research training and writing retreats are scheduled in addition to the variety of activities on offer from the School of Graduate Research. We also offer Research scholarships and help during your application process.

To be eligible to become a member of the CQUniversity Jilbay RHD Academy you must identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person and enrol in one of these courses of study:

Check out our Research Higher Degrees page for more RHD Courses we have to offer.

CQUniversity academics who wish to be affiliated with the Jilbay RHD Academy must:

  • Be supervising an Indigenous CQUniversity student
  • Be currently employed by CQUniversity
  • Undertake specific cultural competency and supervisory training courses.

Hear from psychology alumnus, PhD student, and current Academy member, Sam Cooms who started on her career path determined to help her Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) community in our latest How to Change a Life Podcast.

We are also proud to offer the CQUniversity Australian Indigenous Research Stipend Scholarship to help our Masters (Research) and PhD candidates lighten their financial load.

The beginning of my PhD journey was very daunting, but the support I received from the team in the Jilbay RHD Academy made my enrolment smooth and assisted me to develop my research plan.

~ Dr Justin Gladman, Wiradjuri Nation PhD candidate

Contact Details

Please email us at or call 07 4930 6409.

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The Jilbay RHD Academy is re-imagining and re-building the future of Indigenous Research and the way universities support Masters and PhD students. CQU is empowering students to do research the way they want to do research, through an Indigenous lens.

Adrian Miller

Jirrbal man, Deputy Vice-President (Indigenous Engagement) and BHP Chair of Indigenous Engagement.

Supporting Indigenous student researchers is critical to the self-determination process of First Nations’ people. The RHD Academy facilitates academic and wellbeing support which will be invaluable for First Nations research students.

Dr Melinda Mann

Darumbal Nation CQUni PhD graduate