Integration and expansion of a sentinel surveillance system to improve infectious disease outcomes for Indigenous 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.

Professor James Ward has PhD scholarship opportunities available within his broad Indigenous health and infectious diseases research program. The current opportunity is focused on the ATLAS Indigenous Primary Care Surveillance Network.

The ATLAS Network is a sentinel surveillance system established to monitor sexually transmissible infections (STI) and blood borne virus (BBV) testing, diagnosis and management data, principally within Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). This surveillance system is a driver of sexual health continuous quality improvement (CQI) and other research activities in Indigenous primary health care nation-wide. Current funding arrangements give a mandate to expand both the reach and scope of the ATLAS network, growing the network beyond its current 34 sites and adding additional areas of clinical interest to our data pipeline, beginning with vaccine preventable diseases (VPD).

Under the leadership of Professor Ward, the multidisciplinary investigator team guiding this work includes top Indigenous health service research experts, sexual health epidemiologists, infectious diseases physicians, vaccinologists, data scientists and analysts. The project on offer will contribute to our understanding patterns of care across the network, epidemiological analyses of trends in STI, BBV and VPD testing and diagnosis in primary care, linkage with other surveillance systems, the social determinants of health and behavioural drivers of engagement with primary health care, and evaluation of interventions. The exact project will be determined in consultation with the selected applicant.

We have established unique Indigenous governance processes to oversee the ATLAS network and its program of research, ensuring feasibility and enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. There is a strong commitment to strengthening Indigenous Data Governance and Indigenous Data Sovereignty across all aspects of the ATLAS network.

The ideal candidate for this opportunity is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student who is keen to develop and apply an Indigenist approach to data analysis. You may also be eligible for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Scholarship. Non-indigenous candidates are also welcome to apply.

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 James Ward

UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health


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.

A working knowledge of Indigenous health and public health would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of Indigenous health and public health and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of Indigenous health, STI and BBV, and public health is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2024. 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