The James Cook University School of Medicine and Dentistry is the only medical school in North Queensland. The School was established in 2000 with the mission to work with rural, remote, Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) and tropical populations. A significant proportion of the undergraduate learning at the School takes place in community settings, including fourteen weeks of rural placement across Years Two, Four and Six, and a one-week placement in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Control Health Service in Year Four.

In 2010 the School of Medicine and Dentistry expanded its community engagement by developing a systematic process for conducting face-to-face consultations with local Indigenous health workers in remote communities. 

This study describes the process of how the School collaboratively established an Indigenous Reference Group with a cross-section of Indigenous (predominantly Aboriginal) health leaders, Elders and non-professional but highly valued community representatives in the remote North Queensland town of Mount Isa.

The university’s research team included Ms Glenda Duffy, Ms Simone Ross, Dr Torres Woolley and Associate Professor Sundram Sivamalai, along with Indigenous academics Mr Donald Whaleboat and Ms Priscilla Page, who assisted with data analysis and advice on the cultural integrity of the project. Resource support in the form of a meeting room and administration for the project was provided by the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH).