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Dr. Robyn Preston

BA(DevSt) (Hons), PGCertDisasRefugHlth, GCertEd, MHealthSc(HealthProm), PhD
Senior Lecturer - Public Health
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences
Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research
B2 - 2.03
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About Me

I am a public health-focused social scientist specialising in qualitative (ethnography, PAR) and mixed methods research. I have three interlinked research areas: 1) Access to health services for under-served communities (refugees; regional, rural and remote peoples); 2) Socially Accountable Health Professional Education; and 3) Health promotion and health services in the tropics. The development of these research areas are also linked to my teaching; service and engagement.

My teaching focuses on engaging future health professionals in how to work in partnership with themarginalised members of their communities. I specialise in health promotion, community engagement, community assets and needs assessments, evaluation and research methods.

I am a health promotion and community development practitioner with international and Australian experience. My service roles combine my local interest in health promotion/public health and national and international focus on socially accountable health professions education and health services development. I am recognised internationally for my expertise in socially accountable health professions education and locally for connecting community groups and health promotion professionals with the university.

Universities Studied At

James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

The Australian National University, Canberra

Universities Worked At

James Cook University


2021 JCU Advisory Panel of the Year (Nominated teams must have a track record of successful HDR candidate outcomes. The award is made for engagement in high quality team supervisory practice)

2018 JCU Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning Cohort Doctoral Studies Program Team

2017 JCU Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning First year social medicine team

2016 Early Career Researcher winner 3 minute thesis Competition Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, JCU

2011-2014 Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship, Living Allowance/Scholarship

2011-2014 School of Medicine and Dentistry, Top-up Scholarship

2014 Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Science, Graduate Research Scheme Grant

2012 School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University Graduate Research Scheme Grant

2012 Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Science, Graduate Research Student Grant

2011 School of Medicine and Dentistry Student Support Scheme Grant

2005 Department of Health and Ageing, Research Capacity Building, Mt Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH), Research Development Program Fellow Grant (Primary Health Care Research Evaluation Development)

Previous teaching

2005 - 2018 College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University I developed and delivered face to face social medicine content to Bachelor of Medicine; Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students with class sizes of up to 190 students. My teaching expertise was in public health, underserved populations, health systems and research methods. I also designed Postgraduate Research Methods and Health Professions Education subjects for on-line delivery to local and international students. I developed the first on-line course in the college.

2016 – 2018 Cohort Doctoral Studies Mentor, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University The Cohort Doctoral Studies Program is designed to support and nurture doctoral students through their studies by providing workshops, seminars, coursework, peer learning facilitation and writing workshops in a cohort model where students commence and progress through their program as a group. I mentored PhD students in the health sciences, designed and delivered workshops and assisted with the recruitment and selection of students. I have particular expertise in mentoring Aboriginal students, rural and remote students, and students from lower and middle income countries.

2005-2015 I was an occasional tutor and lecturer for Masters of Public and Tropical Health and Allied Health students in research methods and health promotion.

As an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, I currently supervise of three PhD students, one postgraduate (research) student and one honours students. I have also supervised short Masters level projects, summer scholarships and mentored international students through JCU’s collaboration with the Fijian National University. I have one completed MBBS (Hons) student who graduated with first class honours in 2018.

  • Experiences of dementia in Fiji: perspectives of people with dementia, caregivers, community and service providers (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Enhancing Current International Human Research Ethics Guidelines by Including Indigenous Principles of Human Research Ethics. The Cases of the Pacific Island Nations of Fiji and Tonga. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • What is the economic and social impacts of Monash University, School of Rural Health - Bairnsdale, on the East Gippsland Community - Victoria (PhD , Primary Advisor)

Professional Experience

I have a background in international development, health promotion and community development

Professional Memberships

Australian Health Promotion Association

Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators


2017 - Current : Charles Boelen International Social Accountability Award - Selection Committee

Professional Interests

  • Socially accountable health professional schools
  • Community and health sector partnerships
  • Research, teaching and service leaning partnerships between community and social service organisations and medical schools.
  • Health promoting schools and links with health professional education
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Health Promotion
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Project and program planning for community and health services

Industry Reports

Department of Health - Contract Research: National Research Project on Remote Radiology Assessment Service Delivery (2019)

Department of Health - Pharmacy Trial Program - Integrated Practice Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (2019)


Associate Editor, Australian Journal of Primary Health 

Associate Editor, Focus on Health Professional Education

Recent Research Projects
Enhancing students’ service-learning experiences by ensuring innovative outbound programs have positive social impact
From: 25/02/2021 to 31/01/2023
Grant: Scholarly project (Internal L&T Grant)
Funding Scheme: CQU Learning and Teaching Research and Development Grants 2020
Total Funding: $0.00
Patient Experiences and Perceptions of the new MR-Linac treatment machine in Radiation Oncology
From: 18/01/2021 to 31/07/2022
Grant: Contract Research (Category 2: Other Public Sector)
Funding Scheme: Study, Education and Research Trust - TSV Hospital and Health Serivce (THHC)
Total Funding: $0.00
Preparing for the unimaginable: Guidelines for organisational response and staff support before, during and after disaster
From: 01/07/2020 to 30/06/2021
Grant: Competitive Grant (Category 2: Other Public Sector)
Funding Scheme: FNQ & NQ Monsoon Trough Category C FFG Program Round 2
Total Funding: $73,084.00
Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • 1117 Public Health and Health Services
  • 3904 Specialist Studies in Education
  • 4401 Anthropology
  • 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences

At the level of Principal Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently available to supervise more research candidates
Current Supervision
Master of Health Science
How can a community respond to the challenges and opportunities of cumulative disaster events and climate change?
Not Specified
Doctor of Philosophy
Building Climate Change Adaptive Capacity into the Environmental Health Profession in Australia.
Associate Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Enablers and barriers to accessing hearing assessment for young children with speech and/or language delays in rural and regional Australia.
Associate Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Advancing Health Adaptation Capacity to Climate Change: A review of environmental health profession in Australia 
Associate Supervisor
Master of Research
The self-perceived confidence, practices and knowledge gaps of Australian speech language pathologists, in working with children who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication methods.
Associate Supervisor
Research Interests

Curriculum and Pedagogy - Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy

Environmental Sciences

Climate change impacts and adaptation - Human impacts of climate change and human adaptation

Health Sciences

Health services and systems - Health systems

Health Sciences

Health services and systems - Rural and remote health services

Health Sciences

Public health - Health equity

Health Sciences

Public health - Social determinants of health

Human Society

Development studies - Development cooperation

Human Society

Development studies - Humanitarian disasters, conflict and peacebuilding

Human Society

Development studies - Rural community development

Human Society

Development studies - Urban community development

Medical And Health Sciences

Public Health and Health Services - Health Promotion

Medical And Health Sciences

Public Health and Health Services - Primary Health Care

Studies In Human Society

Anthropology - Anthropology of Development

Studies In Human Society

Anthropology - Social and Cultural Anthropology

Studies In Human Society

Social Work - Social Program Evaluation

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