Melbourne Social Equity Institute Seed Funding Scheme 2020

Expressions of Interest for the Seed Funding Program closed on 9 September 2020.

The details below are for information purposes only.

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute acknowledges an imperfect world. Chances of birth such as class, ethnicity, ability, caste or gender can lead to marginalisation and societies are sometimes beset by divisions of culture, economic status or creed. The Institute supports collaborative research between academics, members of community organisations, policymakers and people with lived experiences which helps build fairer societies.

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute invites proposals for interdisciplinary, community-engaged and innovative research projects. Applicants can apply for a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $40,000. Projects must be completed by the end of December 2021, with final reports due within six months of project completion.

The aim of this seed funding call is to support medium-scale projects that create opportunities for researchers from a range of disciplines, policymakers, practitioners and people with lived experience of social challenges to undertake research together. The scheme aims to support projects that show significant potential for future funding by granting bodies.

Please note: each application must nominate a Coordinating Investigator. The Coordinating Investigator must hold a salaried academic appointment at the University of Melbourne of at least 0.5 EFT for the duration of the project (up until the end of December 2021). Those holding other academic appointments at the University of Melbourne are encouraged to apply in other research roles as part of interdisciplinary teams.

Funding principles

Successful projects will be:

  • Community-engaged, with a high level of community decision-making about the purpose, design, conduct and use of research. Ideally, successful projects will be co-produced with people with lived experience of social challenges and the community organisations that support them.
  • Interdisciplinary, with engagement between researchers from different disciplines and faculties.
  • Innovative, with an emphasis on creative ways of exploring new research ideas. Evaluations of programs or services will not be funded.
  • Impactful, with a focus on or potential to make a positive difference to the lives of people and communities who experience marginalisation. An emphasis on effective dissemination and engagement with policymakers and government agencies is encouraged.

Projects must be feasible within current and reasonably anticipated constraints relating to the local and broader COVID-19 context. Guidance on managing research activity during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at on the COVID-19 Response Website (Staff Access Only).

In the following short clip, taken from the Seed Funding Workshop which took place on 18 August, the Melbourne Social Equity Institute's Executive Officer, Charlene Edwards, provides further details about the importance and application of these funding principles.

Research priority areas

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute has recently refreshed its research foci. Research proposals that align with one or more of these research areas will be rated highly.

The Institute is committed to supporting Community Engaged Research. To be successful, applicants must demonstrate genuine engagement with people with lived experiences and/or the community organisations that support them.

As part of this program, the Institute has a Community Fellows Program which brings members of community organisations into the University to develop research skills while assisting scholars to understand the context in which their research may be used. Running currently with this call for research proposals is a call for the next round of Community Fellowships. Where appropriate, researchers who would like to collaborate with a community organisation through this funding call may want to incorporate a Fellowship application within their project design. Please discuss your ideas with Charlene Edwards.

Investigator eligibility

Each application must nominate a Coordinating Investigator. The Coordinating Investigator must hold a salaried academic appointment at the University of Melbourne of at least 0.5 EFT for the duration of the project (up until the end of December 2021). If the Coordinating Investigator leaves the employment of the University, this responsibility will be transferred to another member of the team.

PhD candidates are not eligible to apply for seed funding as Coordinating Investigators. However, PhD candidates are able to be involved in applications as co-investigators or research assistants.

There are no restrictions on other members of the proposed project team, including PhD candidates and Early Career researchers, community-based researchers and Community Fellows, government employees or international team members.

It will be assumed that in submitting an application, all project team members have consulted appropriately with their supervisors and have the time and basic infrastructure resources to pursue the project concerned within the context of existing workload and responsibilities.

Application process

It is highly recommended that you discuss your project proposal with Charlene Edwards, in the first instance.

The application process has two stages. In the first stage proposing teams to complete the Expression of Interest form outlining the aims and anticipated outcomes of their project.

Teams will be advised of the outcome of their expression of interest by Friday 25 September.

If the teams' Expression of Interest is shortlisted, they will then be invited to submit a full application which will be due by Friday 23 October.

Shortlisted applications will be invited to give a presentation to the selection committee on Wednesday 4 November. The selection committee will then decide how to allocate the funding.

Download: Download the Expression of Interest Form

Expressions of Interest closed at 12pm on Wednesday 9 September.

  • Funding Rules

    Projects should be costed in line with University policy and are subject to final approval by the Foundation Director of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. Funds may be used for:

    • Employing Research Assistants, Research Fellows;
    • Employing community-based researchers or providing buy-out for those working in community organisations (for example, through the Community Fellows Program). Please refer to the rates suggested in the Institute's Guidelines for Equitable and Fair Remuneration for Community Research Participants;
    • Employing professional staff to provide development, administrative or project management support;
    • Modest and appropriate teaching or marking relief for the Coordinating Investigator and other Investigators on the team (specific justification for this item is required);
    • Dissemination costs, e.g. producing a child-friendly or Easy English version of the research findings;
    • Translation, interpretation and accessibility costs that may be required to support the participation of team members or research participants;
    • Modest equipment (specific justification for this item is required); or
    • Consultant costs for workshop preparation, facilitation and/or post-workshop follow-up.

    Funds may NOT be used for:

    • Salary top-ups to existing University of Melbourne staff for additional workload; and
    • Travel expenses, accommodation and catering, given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
    Applications which request funds to supplement another University grant, external grant or research contract will generally be excluded from consideration.
  • Payment Schedule

    The grant will be paid in two tranches, linked to key deliverables.  The payment schedule will be agreed between the Coordinating Investigator and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute prior to the commencement of the project.

  • Assessment Criteria

    Suitability of the project team (30%)

    • Does the proposal involve an interdisciplinary team with appropriate and complementary expertise for the proposed project?

    Project Quality (50%)

    • Does the proposed research address an area of social inequity or disadvantage?
    • Does the proposed research align to one or more of the research priority areas?
    • To what extent is the research community-engaged?
    • Does the project demonstrate innovation in at least one of the following areas: methodology and design; area of focus; conceptual approach and analysis; potential impact and engagement?
    • Is the proposal likely to generate new research activities? What are the intended short- and long-term impacts of the project?
    • Does it show potential for future funding by granting bodies?

    Feasibility and Outcomes (20%)

    • Is the proposed project budget aligned with the claimed outcomes?
    • Has the project identified and engaged with key target audiences for the project outcomes?
  • Conditions of Grant
    1. Grant Offers must be accepted in writing by the Coordinating Investigator and their Head of Department/School.
    2. Successful applicants must provide appropriate acknowledgement of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute’s support when communicating project outcomes.
    3. The Coordinating Investigator:
      1. Will be the contact person for all administrative matters to do with the project and is responsible for internal reporting requirements.
      2. Must ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with University policy, including compliance with the Code of Conduct for Research and policies on human research ethics, animal experimentation ethics, requirements of the Office of Gene Technology Regulator, health and safety and intellectual property.  No project may proceed unless the appropriate ethical or other required clearances have been obtained.
      3. Must comply with any instructions or conditions in the Offer of Grant relating to approved items of expenditure.  This includes entering into a Collaboration Agreement with external parties involved in the project.
      4. Will arrange to meet with a member(s) of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute team for a project kick-off meeting, a mid-term review and an end-of-project review. Other members of the team who wish to attend are most welcome.
      5. Is responsible for ensuring that the expenditure of the grant is broadly in accord with the budget presented in the application and is consistent at all times with the nature and aims of the specific project approved and the objectives of the Scheme.
      6. Will be required to provide reports and presentations on the progress and outcomes of the project at the times and in the form requested by the Selection Committee from time to time, with a formal final report required on the outcomes of the project within six months of the project’s completion. Summaries of projects funded and project final reports may be published.
    4. The project must be completed by December 2021.
    5. The research team will allow the Melbourne Social Equity Institute to use project information for promotional purposes.