In 1994, only 12 Indigenous people attended the mainstream general practice in Inala, south-western Brisbane, Queensland. An Indigenous community focus group and telephone interviews revealed deficits such as: few items (eg, artwork) that Indigenous people could identify with; lack of Indigenous staff; staff perceived as unfriendly; inflexibility regarding time; and intolerance of Indigenous children's behaviour. Access to the Inala Indigenous Health Service by Indigenous people improved when these issues were addressed, and has grown significantly every year from 1995 to 2008. Other important factors in improving access include: energetic Indigenous leadership; enabling bulk billing to increase funding; moving to a stand-alone clinic; and engaging with teaching, research and community programs. A Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Primary Health Care is envisaged as the next innovation required to improve access and quality of service, and to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes.