PhD Scholarship Opportunity – Gendered Dynamics in Community Volunteering Practices

A new scholarship is being offered to research the gendered dynamics in community volunteering and volunteering engagement practice. 

Expressions of Interest close on Wednesday 27 April  2022 at 11.59pm AEST.

About the Project

This Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship is provided by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute, in partnership with Volunteer West, under the supervision of Dr Brendan Churchill (primary supervisor) and Professor Jo Barraket (co-supervisor).

The scholarship recipient will utilise an action-research approach to explore the gendered dynamics in volunteering and the coordination and management of volunteers. As there is a live public policy discourse on volunteering, an action-research approach will also contribute to both practice and policy insights at a national level.

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute and Volunteer West are committed to supporting someone who identifies as a person with relevant lived experience and ideally has experience in community volunteering or community development or community collaborations. This lived experience (in volunteering or paid capacity) will be combined with a strong academic background to ensure their success in this collaborative PhD partnership opportunity.

The PhD will have impact in changing the conversation to better account for the gendered nature of the broad volunteer ‘sector’, including:

a) the types of roles and tasks set up to be volunteering roles
b) the demographic profile of volunteer engagement practitioners and
c) the lack of investment (funding, organisational resources) in volunteering support mechanisms.

Additional areas of investigation may well touch upon such aspects as:

  • the pathways into leadership roles for volunteer engagement practitioners
  • the systemic burnout in the sector that the pandemic has foregrounded
  • broader systems-level dynamics (e.g. policy settings, market failure, professionalisation)

The successful PhD student would be expected to further develop their specific research question with this focus in mind in the first 12 months with the support of supervisors as well as mentoring and support from the leadership at Volunteer West.

Scholarship Benefits

The scholarship benefits include:

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute will also provide an additional $2,000 per annum (a maximum of $6000 during candidature) in research support funds.

The successful candidate will also receive automatic entry to the Institute’s Doctoral Academy.


The scholarship is only available to Australian and New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents. The scholarship is conditional upon acceptance into a PhD program at the University of Melbourne. In line with the requirements of the Australian Government Research Training Program, this scholarship is offered as a full-time commitment. However, for those with caring responsibilities or health issues, it may be possible to access the scholarship on a part-time basis.

Volunteer West and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute will jointly shortlist applicants, interview and select the preferred candidate.

Applicants must be eligible for acceptance by the University of Melbourne into a PhD program. By the commencement of the program applicants must have completed an accredited fourth-year program at Honours 1 or Honours 1 equivalence level or at an Honours 2 level with an outstanding record of professional or research achievements since graduation and/or a Masters degree (with a research component) with a grade point average / weighted average mark of 85% or above.

Applicants should possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Ideally, applicants will be available to commence during the second half of 2022, but no later than October 2022.

People from diverse backgrounds with an understanding and appreciation of the lived experiences of marginalisation as well as those with lived experience of volunteering or supporting/coordinating volunteers are strongly encouraged to apply.


Please complete the Expression of Interest Form and send it to

All Expressions of Interest must be received by no later than Wednesday 27 April 2022 at 11.59pm AEST.

Download the EOI Form

Further Enquiries

If you would like to discuss your application, please contact Dr Brendan Churchill

About the Melbourne Social Equity Institute

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute is one of five Interdisciplinary Research Institutes at the University of Melbourne. Each operates with a small directorate and supports and encourages research across disciplinary boundaries.

The Melbourne Social Equity Institute supports collaborative research between academics, members of community organisations, policy makers and people with lived experiences to help build fairer societies.

About Volunteer West

Volunteer West’s mission is to uplift the profile and practice of volunteering as community building for social and economic wellbeing. It is a  registered charity and the only volunteer resource centre in the region. It works across six local government areas with a population of around 1 million people. With a diverse demographic, the region has unique community strengths. At the same time, it also has challenges as a growth area requiring more infrastructure.

Volunteer West’s focus is inclusive volunteering experiences that sustain personal well-being and build community resilience. We do this by convening, championing and collaborating to create a sustainable volunteering movement.

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