Betty Watts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Award


Inaugurated in 2001, the Betty Watts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Award recognises an outstanding conference paper related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, presented at the Annual AARE Conference.  

The award is intended to recognise excellence in research by individual researchers or teams of researchers across all career stages.  

This award honours the memory of Emeritus Professor Betty Watts.  A former primary school teacher, Professor Watts was twice Chair of the Board of Teacher Education in Queensland and her eminent academic career included many years employed at the University of Queensland with a specific focus on education for those who education systems have traditionally failed.

In 1973 she initiated the journal The Aboriginal Child at School which continues to this day as The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education and is still edited at the University of Queensland.

Read more about Emeritus Professor Betty Watts.

Please note that from 2005 to 2022 the award was titled the Betty Watts Indigenous Researcher Award and recognised an outstanding conference paper by a researcher who identified as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In 2023, the award reverted to its original form.


Funding round: single round per annum

Applications due: 11:59pm on 30 August, 2024

Status of round: Open

Benefits to Awardee: Certificate and up to $1,000 to assist with conference attendance expenses 

The winner/s of the Award may be invited by the editor of The Australian Educational Researcher to submit the paper for consideration for publication in the journal (subject to double blind peer review).


Eligible persons may apply for the Award themselves, or may be nominated by another person (e.g., a colleague or supervisor or referee)

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must demonstrate that they meet all the following criteria:

  • be a member of AARE
  • meet the closing date for conference abstract submission
  • submit a first-authored conference paper related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island education for review by the Conference Awards Panel via the online submission process (see below) by the advertised due date
  • be able to attend the conference
  • have an abstract accepted for presentation at the conference through the abstract submission process via the AARE conference website
  • deliver the presentation at the conference as scheduled
  • have not previously received a Betty Watts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Award

Please note: It is possible to submit a jointly authored paper for an award. Award applicants must be the first named author on the paper. AARE places the responsibility for full disclosure to co-authors with the first author of a paper submitted for consideration in these award categories. 

Merit Criteria

As the intent of the award is to honour and facilitate high quality scholarship, applications will be judged on the basis of the following academic merit criteria:

  • Originality
  • Contemporary significance and/or scholarly relevance
  • Conceptual, methodological and theoretical soundness
  • Disciplined, focused and persuasive argument
  • Coherent organisation and clarity of written expression
  • Comprehensive reference to appropriate literature

Only one paper per researcher or research team should be submitted for the Award in any year. Papers previously submitted may not be re-submitted. The same paper cannot be submitted for more than one award in any year.


Funds will be made available following the conference paper presentation.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Conference Awards Application Form.

Paper guidelines 

Selection process

Eligible applications will be assessed against the merit criteria by the Awards Panel, which is convened each year by the Awards Convenor.
The Panel’s decision will be final and no further correspondence will be entered into.


Previous awardees


Dr Mitchell Rom, The University of Queensland

Just play the game”: Some of the key learning and teaching challenges situated in Indigenous education at University

Show all awardees »