Applications open


Number available


Closing date

28 February 2022

Scholarship details


Dr Bill Jonas Memorial Indigenous Fund


This scholarship has been established by donations made to the Dr Bill Jonas Memorial Indigenous Fund. The fund was established with donations from the Wollotuka Institute, friends, family and community members who wished to honour Dr Bill Jonas’s significant contribution to Wollotuka and the University of Newcastle.

Dr Jonas, a proud Worimi man, is widely regarded as a pioneer of Indigenous rights. Dr Jonas’ list of impressive achievements includes contributions as an academic, activist and administrator. Dr Jonas, the first Aboriginal Australian to be awarded a PhD and the nation’s second Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, died on the 25th May 2019.

Bill studied Geography at the University of Newcastle’s predecessor, Newcastle University College, graduating with honours in 1963 and completing a Diploma in Education the following year. He taught at Maitland Boys High School (1964-1967) and took postgraduate studies in Geography at the University of Newcastle. He took up a lectureship at the University of Papua New Guinea (1969-1973), where he earned his PhD, the first awarded to an Aboriginal person. He returned to Australia to teach at the University of Newcastle (1974-1991), establishing perhaps the first university geography course on Aboriginal Australia in the early 1980s.

Bill contributed to ground-breaking studies of Aboriginal needs in NSW. He led important innovations in Aboriginal studies at Newcastle and supported the influential Newcastle Awabakal Aboriginal Cooperative before his appointment as a Royal Commissioner on the Inquiry into the British Nuclear Tests in Australia (1984-85) – the Maralinga Inquiry led by Diamond Jim McClelland.

Bill subsequently led work in Aboriginal heritage protection, for which he was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for services to protection and preservation of Aboriginal heritage and culture (1993). He was Principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (1991-1996), Director of the National Museum of Australia (1996-1999) and Social Justice Commissioner and Acting Race Relations Commissioner (1999-2004). After his retirement Bill continued as a member of the University of Newcastle Council, Director of the NSW Aboriginal Health College and commentator on issues of human rights, social justice and Indigenous recognition.

Bill’s importance as a public intellectual was widely recognised by his peers and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Newcastle in 1998 and the Institute of Australian Geographers’ Professional Service Medal in 1999.

For more information on this scholarship, please review the full Terms and Conditions.


To be eligible to apply for this scholarship you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled in any year of any undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the University of Newcastle.
  • Be enrolled either full-time or part-time.
  • Demonstrate academic progress either by the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) or equivalent required for entry for commencing students, or a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0 for continuing students.
  • Establish your Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity and heritage with the university as outlined here.
  • Demonstrate impact of personal circumstances, such as carer, sole parent, financial hardship, English language difficulty, Indigenous Australian, long term medical condition or effects of abuse, disability, refugee status, regional/remote disadvantage.
  • Not be the recipient of another University of Newcastle donor-funded or sponsored scholarship concurrently.

Required Documentation

If documentation is not provided your application will not be processed. Please have all required documents available for upload as PDF, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, or JPG files prior to completing the online application process.

  • A personal statement (approx. 1 A4 page) outlining your academic achievements, career aspirations in the relevant area of study, and how this scholarship would assist you.
  • You may be required to provide documents to support your educational disadvantage claims. These will be identified when you apply based on your individual application responses.


The scholarship provides a total benefit of $5,000 over a 1 year tenure provided ongoing eligibility is met for the term of the scholarship.

The scholarship will be paid in two lump sums of $2,500 following the Semester one and Semester two census dates.


Selection is a competitive process and will be based on assessment of the scholarship application and any required supporting documents, with reference to the eligibility criteria.

Selection will be made by the Indigenous Scholarship Selection Committee which will consist of a minimum of three members chosen by the Pro Vice-Chancellor – Indigenous Strategy and Leadership.

The Selection Committee will communicate the details of successful recipients to the delegated Scholarships Officer, and all applicants will be notified of an outcome via email. This will occur within 6 weeks of the scholarship application closing date.


Contact Details

Student Services Centre
University of Newcastle
University Drive

Phone: +61 2 4921 5000
Fax: +61 2 4921 5759

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.