Seed Funding Scheme

Successful Seed Funding Projects 2020

Applications for the 2020 Seed Funding Scheme closed on 30 September 2019. We are pleased to announce the successful projects below:

Banal Statelessness in and from Myanmar: A Study of Non-Rohingya Muslims
Vanessa Lamb (School of Geography, University of Melbourne), with Nyi Nyi Kyaw (Visiting Fellow, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute)
The genocide and plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is attracting increased global attention. What we will investigate in this project, as a complement to this growing work focused on the Rohingya, are the other forms and cases of ‘statelessness’ faced by non-Rohingya Muslims in and from Myanmar. This is important because study of these challenges, for groups and individuals who have also been unable to attain identity cards or be recognised as citizens of Myanmar, is limited and their challenges shed light on significant factors shaping statelessness and identity in Myanmar and in the region. Research will be conducted by reviewing the Myanmar Citizenship Law and associated rules, as well as interviews and review of secondary literature.

Citizenship in Hybrid Societies and its Relevance for Australian Law
Jayani Nadarajalingam (Melbourne School of Government), with Cheryl Saunders (Melbourne Law School), Anne Carter (Deakin Law School) and Patrick Emerton (Monash Law School)

This project combines legal analysis with philosophical theorising to investigate the complexities of citizenship in hybrid societies and its relevance for Australian law. Hybrid societies are ones in which the modern state is not the main political actor; instead, it is only one political actor among others and, as a result, does not provide the only (or main) institutional framework within which people live their lives. The first part of this project will study the theoretical underpinnings of citizenship and legal identity formation in the context of hybrid societies. The second part will put forward a novel account of how Australian public law should understand and engage with citizenship that arises in the context of hybrid societies. The third part of the project constitutes a workshop centred around the themes and questions raised by the first two parts of the project. In doing so, it will bring together scholars and practitioners working on these topics in the Asia Pacific region.

Preventing Statelessness in India: Exclusion and Access in Assam’s National Register of Citizens
Appeals Process
Jeff Redding (Melbourne Law School & Australia India Institute), with Mohsin Alam Bhat (Jindal Global University)

This project builds a rigorous empirical and multidisciplinary inquiry into the impending crisis of statelessness in India. The crisis is the result of the government-administered National Register of Citizens (NRC), which sought to exhaustively list all the Indian citizens in the eastern state of Assam. The final NRC excluded around 2 million residents of the state, rendering them at the verge of statelessness. The project will study the legal process – particularly court decisions, institutional independence, access to justice and conditions in detention centres – during the initial months of the appeals process. It will develop these findings to build an evidence-driven legal intervention for a more thorough oversight by India’s appellate judiciary. The project will also study the social dimension of the problem, particularly the impact on vulnerable groups like women and children, precariousness of excluded individuals, and the insecurity of marginalized communities facing statelessness. The research will be conducted in collaboration with the Centre of Public Interest Law at O.P. Jindal Global University (India).

Contested Belonging: The Documentation and Creation of Legal Identity by Non-State Actors in Civil War
Sara Meger (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne), with Marika Sosnowski (University of Melbourne), Bart Klem (University of Gothenburg) and Katharine Fortin (Utrecht University)

This project investigates the contested nature of legal-political subjectivity in the context of civil war. It explores the implications and ramifications of efforts of non-state actors to document and/or create legal identity in conditions of contested governance. Drawing together researchers and practitioners across four conflict contexts – Syria, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar – this project will deepen our understanding of the strategies, rationales, and legitimations of non-state actors in pursuing the issuance of legal identity, as well as the political, legal, and social impacts of these manoeuvres. In doing so, the project hopes to strengthen the scholarship on rebel governance, statelessness and de facto political orders along three lines of inquiry: insurgency, materiality and legality.

Stateless Children of Migrants in Lebanon
Bina Fernandez (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne), with Karen Block (Melbourne School of Population and Global Health), Yara Mourad and Aseel Jammal (Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut), and Roula Hamati (Insan Association)
This project proposes a study of statelessness experienced by the children of undocumented migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. Focussing on the children of migrant women from Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines nationalities, the study will undertake a review of laws related to nationality, marriage and birth registration in Lebanon as well as the migrants’ origin countries, to identify the legal barriers to such children securing legal recognition and status. The project will be implemented in partnership with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, and with Insan Association, a local NGO in Beirut. Findings from the study will provide insights into potential pathways to securing nationality status for stateless children of migrants.

Blending Traditional and Contemporary Approaches to Conflict Resolution: A Case Study of Naga Community Cross-Border Dialogue
Anne Decobert (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne), with Michael Breen (University of Melbourne), Dolly Kikon (University of Melbourne) and Joseph Lo Bianco (Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne)

This pilot project explores conflict resolution and transformational approaches that integrate traditional and emerging social science methods, and that can foster peaceful cross-border relationships among stateless and other vulnerable populations. The project is a collaboration with individuals representing Naga Peoples of North-East India and North-West Myanmar. The Naga identify as a stateless nation, members of which have been in conflict with the state in both India and Myanmar for over 60 years. Although living adjacent, there have been little peacebuilding initiatives between Naga communities on either side of the border. This pilot project will bring together key Naga community members from India and Myanmar, in Stage 1 of a facilitated dialogue process. It aims to lay the foundations for longer-term collaborative work with Naga academics and leaders, with a view to developing a transferable conflict resolution approach that also addresses questions around citizenship and identify in conflict transformation processes.

A Place to Call Home (Phase 2): Examining the Numbers, Location and Lived Experience of Stateless Refugee Children in Australia
Katie Robertson and John Tobin (Melbourne Law School), with Sarah Dale (Refugee Advice and Casework Service)

Children born on Australian soil are not guaranteed the right to Australian citizenship. Citizenship is foundational to a child's sense of identity, providing them with fundamental rights. Importantly, for children of refugees it can also offer safety; a place to call home. In Australia, a significant but unknown number of children have been born into statelessness to parents of refugee background. This project seeks to expand upon research conducted through Round 1 SHRI funding, which explored the legal needs, complexities and gaps experienced by these children and found that there is a significant, but unknown number of stateless refugee children in Australia with a prima facie entitlement to citizenship. Phase 2 of this project will partner with the Refugee Advice Casework Service to map the location and identity of refugee children in Australia and link them with legal services. The family members’ lived experience of statelessness will also be documented.

Read about Successful Projects awarded in the 2019 Seed Funding Round here.

Overview of the Seed Funding Scheme

The objective of the Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative Seed Funding Scheme is to increase cross-disciplinary academic collaboration on statelessness across the University and with external partners. The Scheme serves as an incubator for developing and upscaling small-to-medium sized interdisciplinary research projects that show significant potential for future funding by granting bodies. The Scheme provides support to research teams with the aim of generating new knowledge and insights on topics broadly related to statelessness, citizenship and identity. Innovative research proposals can encompass a wide range of perspectives and methodologies, such as theoretical projects or projects based on empirical study or community engagement with external partners. Proposals are invited on a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, issues around nationality, deprivation of citizenship, legal identity and documentation, risk of statelessness and/or human rights issues connected with the causes and ramifications of statelessness. The Statelessness Hallmark Research Initiative is keen to support and enhance the career development of early career researchers by providing opportunities for them to participate and play a significant role within interdisciplinary research teams.

In considering the SHRI Seed Funding Scheme’s role to leverage cross-disciplinary collaboration for generating and upscaling innovative project ideas, the second round offer two categories of funding:

  • Category 1 grants aim at providing start-up funding for developing and refining project ideas and/or pilot initial activities. Up to $10,000 for 3-5 projects will be available under category 1 funding. Round 1 recipients are not eligible to apply for this category.
  • Category 2 grants are intended to lay the ground for enlarged project designs that demonstrate a clear strategy for targeting specific external funding opportunities. Up to $25,000 for 1-2 projects will be available under category 2 funding. While open to all entrants, this category also provides an opportunity for Round 1 grant recipients to expand and refine their projects for the purposes of larger external funding opportunities.

Projects must be completed by 31 December 2020. At the end of Round 2, a workshop will bring together all grant recipients to present the project outcomes and seek critical feedback on concept notes for follow-on funding.

Relationship with other funding schemes

There are a number of University schemes to support projects and applicants should consider which scheme is most suitable for their project. Details of other schemes can be found at Applications which request funds to supplement another current internal University grant, external grant or research contract will generally be excluded from consideration.


  • Applications are expected to be developed by a proposing team, and each application must nominate one Coordinating Investigator.
  • Applicants must disclose if they are submitting this application to other University of Melbourne seed funding grant sources.
  • 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 and the reporting period. If the Coordinating Investigator leaves the employment of the University, this responsibility will be transferred to another member of the team.
  • There are no restrictions on other members of the proposed project team, including international team members.
  • A simple signoff process will be used. It will be assumed that in submitting an application, all project team members have consulted appropriately with their Heads and Deans and have the time and basic infrastructure resources to pursue the project concerned within the context of existing research, teaching and higher degree supervision responsibilities.

Funding Rules

All requests for funding are to be made through the corresponding Application Forms and associated process. Projects should be costed in line with University policy and are subject to final approval by the Director or Chair of the relevant research body.

Funds may be used for:

  • Employing Research Assistants;
  • Employing casual staff to provide development or administrative support;
  • Modest and appropriate teaching or marking relief for the Coordinating Investigator and other Investigators on the team (specific justification for the item is required);
  • Costs associated with workshops or events, including accommodation and catering;
  • Travel costs such as bringing overseas or interstate industry or community partners to the workshops or events;
  • Accessibility costs (for example, for inclusive research, events or dissemination of findings);
  • 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;
  • Extensive overseas travel by University of Melbourne staff; or,
  • Retainer fees for consultants.

Payment Schedule

The payment schedule will be linked to key deliverables and agreed between the Coordinating Investigator and the SHRI steering and selection committee prior to the commencement of the project.

Application Process

The application process has two stages:

  1. Proposing teams complete the official application form. The Selection Committee will then shortlist applications.
  2. Shortlisted applications will be invited to give a presentation to members of the Selection Committee on their project. The Selection Committee will then decide how to allocate the funding.

The application consists of the following elements:

  • Completed official application form, including proposal and budget (must include all supporting documentation, i.e. CVs of the Coordinating Investigator and other team members, letters of support from partner organisations).
  • For the Coordinating Investigator and for each team member, provide a statement of no more than one page in total including (a) current position, (b) expertise relevant to the proposed role in the current proposal, including track record of prior collaboration, and (c) a representative list of grants and/or publications in areas relevant to the proposal.

An information meeting for interested applicants will be held on 6 August 2019 - event info here. This meeting will be an opportunity to seek further clarification regarding the SHRI Seed Funding Scheme and the application process.

It is recommended that you discuss your project proposal with the Academic Convenor, Christoph Sperfeldt, prior to submitting your application.   (T: +61 3 8344 1489 E: )

Key Dates

  • An information meeting will be held for interested applicants on 6 August 2019.
  • Applications must be submitted by close of business 30 September 2019.
    • Proposals should be submitted via email to in a single file (PDF or DOC format)
    • Email Subject and Applications must use the filename format: Year-SHRI-Application-Initial+Last Name e.g. 2019-SHRI-Application-JDoe
  • Presentations of shortlisted applicants will be scheduled in October 2019. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their submission in early November 2019.
  • Projects of Round 2 must be completed by 31 December 2020. The feedback workshop will be held in November/December 2020.
  • A project completion report must be filed by 31 January 2021.

Complete Seed Funding Guidelines including Assessment Criteria and Conditions of Grant

Read about Successful Projects awarded in the first Seed Funding Round here.