Bowel screening preferences of First Nations Australians

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

The NHMRC has funded a project to develop a scalable and sustainable approach to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) in partnership with Aboriginal Home Care Services (AHCS) across NSW. This project includes many components, and the student would select parts of the work, or methodological issues to focus on. This includes the opportunity for either or both quantitative and qualitative research and data collection. Below is a brief description of the overall study background, aims and methods.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program aims to reduce deaths from bowel cancer through early detection of the disease. Eligible Australians (50 to 70 years of age) are invited to screen every two years and mailed a bowel screening kit to complete at home. The most recent NBCSP report indicated participation by indigenous Australians was 27% compared to 44% for non-indigenous Australians. To optimise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' participation in screening and delivery of culturally safe care, we need to understand and respond to their values and preferences for delivery of bowel cancer screening.

Specific aims of the larger project are to 1) understand bowel cancer screening preferences and co-design a preference-based intervention with our provider and Aboriginal Strait Islander Adults. 2) Assess the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of delivering a preference-based tailored intervention through AHCS to increase participation of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders adults in the NBCSP; and 3) assess the impact of the intervention on AHCS clients, knowledge and attitudes towards screening, informed choices and intention to get screened.

This before-after hybrid effectiveness implementation study will be conducted over 3 phrases (i.e., pre-implementation, implementation, and evaluation) with a mixed-methods approach to measure the effectiveness of delivering  a preference-based bowel cancer screening program via AHCS.

In collaboration with AHCS and their clients, this study will co-design, implement and evaluate a preference-based approach to screening to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take part in the NBCSP, ultimately saving more lives and enhancing wellbeing.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Professor Gail Garvey

Faculty of Medicine


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process