The status of Indigenous peoples’ health in both Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand remains well below that of their non-Indigenous counterparts, with a greater burden of disease and lower life expectancy (ABS & AIHW 2012; NZ Ministry of Health 2010). A range of historical, social and economic factors influences this situation, but both ensuring access to appropriate health care services and the quality of care provided are also influential (Anderson 2008). The medical schools that educate our doctors, therefore, have an important responsibility in developing a workforce that is responsive to the needs of Indigenous people (Hays 2002).
Historically, education on Indigenous health has been sporadically taught and poorly implemented in medical education (Garvey & Brown 1999; Phillips 2004). The Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network was established in 2005 to be a ‘sustainable, functional and effective network’ of Indigenous and non-Indigenous medical educators who could collaborate and support each other in the delivery of Indigenous health curriculum and the development of strategies to recruit and support Indigenous medical students (Phillips 2005).
While recently searching our archives we discovered an article by Beacham et al. (2005) on the nature and purpose of networks generally. Densely marked with highlighter, the paper may have informed the initial development of the LIME Network during its establishment phase.
In this paper we explore the role and function of the LIME Network’s organisational support structure and its value in driving systemic and institutional change to enable best practice in Indigenous health and medical education. We utilise Beacham et al.’s framework to analyse the operational aspects of the Network and to see where improvements can be made to further its aims.