ANU Grand Challenges Collaborative Scheme 2019 - Indigenous Health and Wellbeing

Funded by: The Australian National University


NOTE: Extended submission date for three-minute video. Due on 8 July 2019.


Grand Challenges Programme Overview

The ANU Grand Challenges Scheme invests in transformative research to impact on the world’s most intractable problems. It is designed to build large scale and long-term interdisciplinary programs of research and provide strategic investment in high-risk activities recognised for bold leaps, rather than incremental advances.

The 2019 ANU Grand Challenges Scheme will differ from previous years. This year, the focus is on research that will have a positive impact on Indigenous Health and Wellbeing. Expression of Interest which address other priorities will NOT be invited in 2019.

In 2019, rather than the Grand Challenges being of a competitive nature, the aim is to identify groups of researchers at the ANU to form an Indigenous-led, significant and inclusive COLLABORATIVE cross-ANU research initiative. As Australia’s national university, ANU has a particular responsibility towards addressing the disproportionate and unacceptable burden of illness and disability experienced by Indigenous Australians. ANU is uniquely placed to contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.  However, until now ANU research has tended to take the form of individual projects, with little if any coordination between them. Addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing will require collaboration across diverse disciplines and with stakeholders. ANU researchers across all disciplines are strongly encouraged to submit Grand Challenge expressions of Interest, reflecting ANU research strengths in both the humanities and the sciences.

The Grand Challenges Committee will seek to form a collaborative interdisciplinary initiative from selected Expressions of Interest that will impact very significantly on the main causes of the disproportionate burden of illness and disability experienced by Indigenous Australians. The Grand Challenge collaborative initiative will receive $10M over a period of five years. Professor Terry Dunbar, Director of the ANU Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Research Institute, will be the academic lead of the Grand Challenge Collaborative Initiative.  


Principles for the Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Grand Challenge Initiative

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing is everybody’s business. Through bringing together existing efforts with new innovative and inter-disciplinary projects, the programme which is developed through the Grand Challenge process will increase the overall effort, emphasis and capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research at the ANU. The Initiative will draw on the following principles:


1. Ensure Indigenous leadership, governance and ways of doing business.

2. Conduct research of direct benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

3. Coordinate and provide strategic direction for relevant research at ANU.

4. Serve as a high-profile point of contact for those seeking to engage with ANU.

5. Increase relevant training and education.

6. Increase the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at ANU.

7. Work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, practice and community organisations.

8. Attract and optimise use of resources to increase research quality and impact.




The 2019 ANU Grand Challenges Scheme on Indigenous Health and Wellbeing seeks Expressions of Interest which show how distinctive ANU research will impact on improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples. The objectives of the 2019 Grand Challenges scheme are to:

  1. Impact upon pressing Indigenous health and wellbeing priorities, in particular in relation to the Priorities in Box 1 below.
  2. Undertake transformative interdisciplinary research not being advanced elsewhere.
  3. Partner with Indigenous Communities to ensure that research is properly targeted and has an impact.
  4. Recognise and reward leadership, research excellence, and collaborative and collegial behaviour.
  5. Create platforms for future research funding.



A. Addressing Racism


B. Addressing Racism in the Health System


C. Social and Emotional Wellbeing


D. Evaluations of policies and programs to determine their effectiveness with a view to continual improvements for Indigenous health and wellbeing


E. The relationship between culture and wellbeing


F. Precision Medicine for Serious Diseases Affecting Indigenous People


In the two-page Expression of Interest, you are required to note what your primary Research Priority is and also have the opportunity to list any other Research Priority that may be reflected.


Assessment criteria


Expressions of Interest should address the Programme Objectives above, and Assessment Criteria in the template provided:


1. Impact

  • State the primary Research Priority you are addressing (from Box 1 in Guidelines).
  • List any other potential Research Priority that may be reflected in your proposed project.
  • Define a vision and research objective which articulate the Indigenous health and wellbeing issue/s that the research seeks to address.
  • Define expected research outcomes and their impacts for Indigenous Peoples. Describe what success may look like at the end of the research programme.


2. Transformative Research for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples

  • Potential to create new insights and ideas.
  • Likelihood of achieving pioneering methodological innovation.


3. Approach

  • Describe how the proposed novel and meaningful interdisciplinary research will address the identified Indigenous health and wellbeing priority (see objectives above).
  • Identification of Indigenous communities/organisations with whom the ANU will collaborate to increase the likelihood of benefits to Indigenous communities.
  • Demonstration of a high risk, high reward research approach unlikely to be funded by traditional funding schemes.
  • Potential to create opportunities to leverage new funding within the project timeframe.


4. Communication

  • Clear articulation and communication to enthuse and entice a broad non-expert audience (in particular in the video).
  • Structure, clarity and content of the written Expression of Interest.
  • Responsiveness to Committee comments and queries.


5. ANU Competitive Advantage

  • Extent to which capacities and track record of the ANU team provide a unique opportunity for the ANU to make a difference.


6. Team

  • Experience and capacity of the research team, including external partners, to lead and support the objectives of the programme.
  • Capacity of team to support and create research leadership opportunities for ECRs.
  • Capacity of team to engage with current/new Indigenous communities and build/maintain a long-term ongoing relationship.
  • Each team must select three members to act as the leadership team. Each member should have a clearly defined leading role and ideally each leadership team should include at least one experienced Indigenous academic.


Selection process and timelines


Expressions of Interest for ANU 2019 Grand Challenges Scheme funding will progress through five stages:


Stage 1: Call for ideas through a 3-minute video and a two-page Expression of Interest. All Expressions of Interest must relate to Indigenous Health and Wellbeing, have partnerships with Indigenous communities / organisations. School and College support must be identified and address the objectives and assessment criteria.


Stage 2: Assessment/shortlisting of videos and two-page Expressions of Interest by a Selection Panel comprising Indigenous academics and professionals and chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation).


Stage 3: Collaboration and Synthesis workshop hosted by Director, ANU Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Research Institute and Grand Challenges Committee. The purpose of the workshop is to initiate the cooperative process of a cohesive and collaborative program identified from the shortlisted Expressions of Interest, which meets the Principles.


Stage 4: Development of collaborative Business Plan and linked individual project plans.  The Grand Challenges project plans must demonstrate how they will be linked together through an overarching Business Plan, to impact on Indigenous health and wellbeing. This Business Plan will be developed through Business Planning workshops and meetings led by Professor Terry Dunbar, in association with a Business Planning expert.


Stage 5: Public Indigenous Forum to present the projects followed by Q&A session with Grand Challenges Panel.


Stage 1: Videos and Two Page Expression of Interest - Call for Ideas


Videos can be submitted by teams or individuals from 24 May and should describe the proposed Grand Challenge and its impact. The Video portal will close for submission on 8 July (extended date). The quality of the video is not a criterion for assessment. Videos will be released on the ANU Grand Challenges Online Portal including a discussion platform open to staff and students. The purpose of the video is to:

1.         Stimulate discussion and provide an opportunity for researchers from different disciplines and complementary Expressions of Interest to find each other, with the prospect of merging projects AND

2.         Demonstrate an ability to communicate the Grand Challenge clearly and concisely.


Video guidelines

The video should concisely state the objective of the Grand Challenge, why it is important, and what approaches and solutions are expected (focussing on Assessment criteria.

The video is an opportunity to call for additional expertise needed to solve the Grand Challenge.

The content and format is at your discretion, and should require no professional editing or video equipment (smart phone recording is all that is expected). Please see  for easy instructions on how to make a video using your smart phone.

Videos should be no more than 3 minutes in length and should be submitted via ANU Cloudstor ( linking to by 8 July 2019. This is an extended deadline for video submission.


In your cover email, please include:

  • Title of the Grand Challenges
  • List of ‘interested parties’ – researchers that have identified an interest in being involved in the Grand Challenge idea
  • Up to six broad key words to identify the field/s of research
  • Up to six key words to identify expertise you may be looking to attract (not mandatory).

The 3-minute videos will be evaluated during Stage 2, along with the two-page written Expression of Interest. 


Two-Page Expression of Interest


The two-page Expression of Interest is due on 7 August 2019. Expression of Interest templates can be found here. Please send two-page Expressions of Interest to no later than COB 7 August 2019. In the two-page Expression of Interest, you are required to note what your primary Research Priority is and also have the opportunity to list any other Research Priority that may be reflected.

Where possible, an Indigenous community liaison officer from the National Centre of Indigenous Studies will be made available to assist in the development of an engagement strategy with Indigenous communities for projects which require this support.


Stage 2: Assessment and Shortlisting of Teams, 20 August 2019


Templates for the Expressions of Interest (including the team member spreadsheet) can be found here.

Videos and Expressions of Interest will be assessed against criteria 1-6 by the Grand Challenges Selection Committee together with the Videos submitted at Stage 1.

The Committee will convene on 20 August 2019 and shortlist Expressions of Interest and videos to progress to the next stage. Feedback will be provided to all teams that participate. It is anticipated that around 4-7 Expressions of Interest will be selected to comprise the Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Grand Challenge Initiative.


Stage 3: Collaboration and Synthesis Workshop, 10 September 2019


Shortlisted teams will be invited to a synthesis workshop hosted by Professor Terry Dunbar, with participation of the members of the Committee. The aim will be to engender collegiality, agreeing and building a cohesive and collaborative Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Initiative with agreed research goals and leaders.


Stage 4: Development of collaborative Business Plan and linked individual project plans

A facilitated Business Planning meeting will be held to consolidate project plans into a Business Plan. The Business Plan will include a detailed research program, milestones, KPIs, budget, a risk management strategy and a governance structure. A business plan template and guidelines will be provided. Through agreement of the Grand Challenge team, the budget of $10 million will be allocated across each project as well as to the overall leadership, management and coordination of the program. ANU College and ANU School contributions will be agreed and approved. Professor Terry Dunbar will be the academic lead and will employ a Director, Chief Operating Officer and Administrative Officer, as required, to support her leadership.


The Business Plan will be submitted by COB 7 November to


Stage 5: Public Indigenous Forum, 12 November 2019

The Initiative and its projects will be showcased at a Public Indigenous Forum, which will include consultation with Indigenous Elders.


Guidelines for Composition of Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Grand Challenges Teams


1. Each project team must identify a leader who will commit a minimum of 30-40% of their time to the project. The leader will be responsible for the development of the project-level business plan, including funding allocation.  Agreed criteria to be a project leader will be negotiated with the successful teams.

2. Teams must have gender balance, equity and diversity and/or demonstrate how they will achieve gender balance AND include partnership with Indigenous communities or organisations. Teams should be comprised of ANU researchers from multiple disciplines and may include Government, NGO, international and business partners.

3. Teams are encouraged to involve early and mid-career researchers in their leadership groups, supported by established research leaders who can provide guidance and support to develop future leaders. The successful team will consist of researchers who consistently demonstrate professional service and leadership.

4. Strong evidence is required of genuine commitment and active participation of all team members in the research programme. A case must be made for the proposed contribution of each investigator, providing evidence of a significant input to the project. This may be presented in a tabular format.  


Funding Principles for Stage 4 – Development of collaborative Business Plan and linked individual project plans


Grand Challenges Funding is not a “grant” to be provided to researchers in the same way as external funding, but rather an ANU investment scheme which provides support and governance to ensure success.  A governance structure will be developed as part of the full business plan and will be implemented to monitor and support teams and to make recommendations on continued funding.  Progress and implementation will be monitored by the ANU Grand Challenges Governance Board.

1. The team will be expected to fully justify the funding requests as part of the full business plan.

2. Up to $10 million may be requested for five years for the full Grand Challenge. Continued funding will be subject to progress against a research plan and agreed milestones. A rigorous formal review will be undertaken twice annually by the Grand Challenges Governance Board.

3. Contributions will be non-recurrent and must be invested in activities that are directly related to meeting the challenge. Indirect costs (including overheads) are excluded and will remain the responsibility of Schools/Colleges. Continuing salaries must also be supported through Schools and Colleges.

4. In addition to contribution of the time and overheads of their staff, cash co-investment from Colleges and local areas is required as evidence of commitment to the Grand Challenge. Expectations will vary depending on the Schools and Colleges involved.

5. No restrictions are placed on the types of activities funded but these are expected to be substantial, commensurate with the scale of the funding available and the program duration. Teaching activities specifically related to the research being undertaken may be included, especially where this may lead to capacity building and can be demonstrated to be core to the research questions being responded to.

6. Recipients will be expected to use the leverage created by the Grand Challenge funding.

7. As a condition of award, the Grand Challenge team will be expected to prepare a full business plan prior to starting. This will be considered by the Grand Challenges Governance Board before any funding is released.


Contact Information


Please direct all enquiries to the ANU Grand Challenges email:


Please see below links for 2017 and 2018 Grand Challenges winners:

2018: Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific

2017: Our Health In Our Hands


Partner Organisations

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