Processes and outcomes for a successful engagement between a medical school and a remote Indigenous community in North Queensland, Australia

Duffy, G., Ross, S.J., Woolley, T.S., Sivamalai, S., Whaleboat, D., and Miller, A. (2013) Processes and outcomes for a successful engagement between a medical school and a remote Indigenous community in North Queensland, Australia. Rural and Remote Health, 13 (2). 2277. pp. 1-10.

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Introduction: Medical students should be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to engage with local communities on placement, and later act as agents of change in addressing health system priorities and inequities. Determining what are the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes requires the medical school to collect input from the local communities they serve. This study describes the steps taken by the James Cook University (JCU) School of Medicine & Dentistry (SMD) to develop a systematic process for collecting input from a local Indigenous community.

Methods: This 2011 study utilised a participatory action research design. An Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) consisting of 13 local Indigenous people including health professionals, Elders and community members was established by the JCU SMD in the North Queensland town of Mount Isa. 'Yarning Circle' discussions between SMD representatives and the IRG developed a Terms of Reference (ToR) to guide the engagement process, and negotiated reciprocal benefits to compensate participants for time involved in consultations and to promote sustainability.

Results: A framework for engaging with the Mount Isa Indigenous community was developed. Benefits for the SMD included a list of the good and bad engagement strategies with the local Indigenous community. Benefits for the IRG members included assistance with grant applications, media skills and organizing a community-wide health event.

Conclusions: Successful and sustainable community partnerships between a medical school and an Indigenous community can be achieved, with Indigenous researchers and community members guiding the engagement process, and for stakeholders to follow through in providing the negotiated reciprocal benefits. Having an established IRG should increase Indigenous input and participation into the medical curriculum, and into future research and community activities to improve the health of the Indigenous people.

Item ID: 28968
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1445-6354
Keywords: community engagement, Indigenous Australian, medical school, partnerships
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When an article is accepted for publication in RRH, all authors are required to sign and return a form assigning copyright to James Cook University, which administers the journal, before publication can proceed. When an article is published, James Cook University grants to the authors the rights to make the final published version of the article available in digital form over the internet on a website under the control of their employer or through any digital repository under the control of their employer.

Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2013 02:38
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 100%
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