HDR Scholarship - Trauma and parenting a child with Autism

Applications now open. A joint PhD scholarship with Deakin University and the University of Copenhagen is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Trauma and parenting a child with Autism'.

Project Supervisor

Prof. David Austin

Prof. Gert Martin Hald (University of Copenhagen)

Associate Supervisor


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

This project and scholarship are offered as part of a collaborative joint PhD program with the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by a team of leading researchers from Deakin University and University of Copenhagen and will graduate with a joint PhD from both institutions.

There is evidence that a trauma-based response is clinically identifiable amongst a significant minority of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Stewart et. al., 2019, Schnabel et. al., 2020). An interesting aspect of this work is that it challenges both the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) literature by questioning the diagnostic criterion regarding prescribed traumatic events, as well as the ASD literature, as we are drawing attention to an under-researched clinical perspective on the parenting experience.

We are seeking a researcher with experience of autism and/or stress and trauma to advance the science in this area by examining the phenomenon in Danish and Greenlandic populations and, ultimately, to compare and contrast the findings in those groups to those in Australia. There is also the opportunity to develop and trial an online resource designed to support those parents challenged by the trauma they have experienced through their parenting experience.

As part of this joint PhD program between Deakin University’s School of Psychology and the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, you will have access to supervision and program funding support from both institutions. Prof Gert Martin Hald from the University of Copenhagen will assist in the process of accessing the Danish and Greenlandic data. The selected candidate will be required to spend 6 -12 months located in Copenhagen at some point during the program (which will be mutually agreed upon with the supervision team).

Project aim

The overall aim of the project is to examine the nature and prevalence of trauma-based responses to the experience of parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in three nations: Greenland, Denmark, and Australia. Furthermore, the project involves the design and preliminary evaluation of an online resource to support parents experiencing trauma-based responses.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Monday 1 March 2021


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt (2021 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic candidate (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship).
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • The applicant must have experience with ASD and/or trauma/stress. Entry requirements for the PhD program at the University of Copenhagen's Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences must also be met.

How to apply

Learn more about submitting a successful application on the How to apply page.

Find out more

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Professor David Austin

Professor David Austin
Associate Dean (International)
Email David Austin
+61 3 925 17227 or +61 400598595