Tackling Indigenous Smoking Technical Advisory Group (TIS TAG)

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking Technical Advisory Group (TIS TAG) was established by the Australian Government Department of Health in January 2020. The group provides technical advice across the TIS program on:

  • matters relating to strategies, priorities, activities and implementation of the program
  • supporting evidence-based knowledge and best practice in tobacco control/population health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities
  • identifying current and emerging risks that could affect the effectiveness of the TIS program, and ways of mitigating these risks
  • any other matters to support the TIS program to meet its goals.

The role of the Group is advisory only. It has no governance or decision-making responsibilities for the TIS program.

TIS TAG meets at least quarterly via teleconference and/or using video-conferencing technology. Face-to-face meetings are held once a year.

The National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking (NBPU TIS) provides secretariat support and coordinates all meetings and the distribution of agendas, papers and minutes. Input and advice may also be sought from TIS TAG members outside of scheduled meetings.

Summaries of the meetings are published here:

Find information here about the previous Advisory Group (2016-2019) and Communiques.


Members include representatives from the TIS program components, specialists in Tobacco Control, and experts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social and emotional wellbeing. Membership is drawn from across a number of sectors including Community Controlled Health, academia, non-government and government. The Group has a majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership.


Professor Tom Calma AO (Chair)

National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking

Professor Tom Calma AO is the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, providing leadership and support to the organisations delivering the TIS Programme and to the NBPU TIS.

Professor Calma has been involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level for 40 years. He served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010. In his 2005 Social justice report, Professor Calma called for the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation and advocated embedding a social determinants philosophy into public policy on health, education and employment. This spearheaded the Close the Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign.

Professor Calma has been instrumental in establishment of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, development of the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy, and promotion of Justice Reinvestment. He was awarded an Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in 2012.

Ms Sarah Agius

Cancer Council (SA) / Quitskills

Sarah is a Kaurna woman from the Adelaide plains with 23 years of work experience in Aboriginal health, Health Promotion, Education and including working in tackling Indigenous smoking space for several years.

Sarah was recently appointed as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Development Manager at Cancer Council of South Australia. The role includes oversight of the two Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) funded initiatives Quitskills and Quitline Enhancement. Quitskills is a culturally appropriate nationally recognised smoking cessation education program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. Quitline Enhancement is an initiative to promote Aboriginal Quitline to Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities across South Australia and Northern Territory.

Sarah advocates for systems change to enable best cultural practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities. Sarah was involved in a knowledge translation research project that analysed the unique cultural practices of addressing health within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Sarah strives to use her knowledge and experiences to bridge Aboriginal ways of working and living with western health practice to instigate real change in closing the gap.

Mr Darren Ah See

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service

Mr Lionel Austin

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

Ms Lena Etuk

Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA)

Lena Etuk is a Manager of Research and Evaluation at Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA). Lena has been involved with research and evaluation since 2006, specifically managing research and evaluation projects since 2012. Lena has a Master of Science in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a specialty in social stratification and demography.

Prior to joining CIRCA, Lena worked for three years at the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW-Sydney, and before that worked for 10 years as an applied Social Demographer at Oregon State University (USA). At the Centre for Social Impact, she worked on projects to establish outcomes measurement and evaluation frameworks for government and non-profit clients. There she also managed the development and initiation of the Amplify Social Impact project; an applied social science initiative to create a suite of resources, tools, and initiatives to support social change.

At Oregon State University, Lena’s evaluation projects focused on measuring and understanding the impact of rural community development initiatives; assessing how rural community environments affect healthy eating and active living to inform childhood obesity prevention interventions; and evaluating the outcomes of a collaborative natural resource management program across the rural US West. Her research projects at Oregon State University were all focused on measuring and exploring the complexities of rural social demographic change. Lena’s evaluation and research work in Oregon was complemented by the website she developed, launched, and managed for seven years: the Rural Communities Explorer (www.oregonexplorer.info/rural), a public website that provides community practitioners free access to economic, social, and environmental data and research insights about Oregon and Siskiyou County, California’s places and people.

Associate Professor Gillian Gould


Associate Professor Gould’s primary research focus is strategies to improve the risks from tobacco smoking for Indigenous Australians. Gould is an National Health and Medical Research Council and Cancer Institute NSW Translating Research into Practice Fellow at University of Newcastle. The focus of the fellowships is improving cessation strategies for pregnant Indigenous smokers.

Gould was awarded her PhD Public Health in 2015, topic ‘Making Salient Messages for Indigenous Tobacco Control’. Gould leads a team of 17 researchers and students, many in regional areas. She currently has major funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Global Alliance for Chronic Disease for an innovative intervention to train health providers in how to aid pregnant Indigenous smokers to quit called SISTAQUIT. This has been followed by major funding to further implement a version called iSISTAQUIT into 20 more services in Australia. She has been awarded a career total of $12M in funding, and received over 20 prestigious awards for her research including from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Foundation and Cure Cancer Australia.

Gould is a GP and a Tobacco Treatment Specialist with nearly a decade of academic experience at University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine 2002-2011 as Senior Lecturer, Head of Campus of Rural Clinical School Coffs Harbour (2 years) and Senior Research Fellow (2 years). She is also qualified with an MBChB (University of Leeds UK 1976) and MA (Arts Therapy 2003), a Grad Dip Creative and Experiential Arts Therapy (1999) and a Dip Drama (1980). Gould’s GP experience is over 30 years in UK, NZ and Australia (vocationally registered with Health Insurance Commission and on specialist and generalist registers Medical Board of Australia) including visiting medical officer (VMO) in Refugee Health at Coffs Harbour Health Campus. Gould also collaborates with researchers in Canada, USA and New Zealand to provide evidence-based approaches to help Indigenous populations quit.

Mr Brett Ingram

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd.

Ms Libby Jardine

Cancer Council of Western Australia

Libby Jardine is Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Tobacco Issues Committee and in this role brings together leading experts to advise on evidence based tobacco control policy in Australia.

As Manager of Cancer Council Western Australia (WA) Make Smoking History program since 2011, Libby leads a team to implement an evidence based comprehensive program to drive down smoking rates in WA. Her work has included initiating the development of a new program focussed on reducing barriers to quitting for priority groups in WA.

Libby has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, majoring in Health Science and Counselling. She has previously worked at Cancer Council New South Wales and Queensland Health in cancer prevention, and at School Drug Education and Road Aware prior to that.

Ms Ngara Keeler

Aboriginal Health Council South Australia (AHCSA)

Ms Ngara Keeler is a Ngarrindjeri/Alawa Mara woman from South Australia and has worked in the Aboriginal health sector since 2002.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Certificate IV in Aboriginal Health Research Capacity Building and is currently studying for a Diploma in Leadership.

She has worked in tobacco cessation for the last three years and has a passion to showcase the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people. She has also worked in organisational accreditation and compliance, Aboriginal health research and workforce development roles.

Ms Madonna Kennedy

Queensland Health

Ms Madonna Kennedy has extensive experience working the area of smoking cessation in Queensland. This experience includes working as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Prevention Coordinator for North Queensland, based in Townsville for over eight years. This work included engagement and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders located in Cape York and Torres Strait, Mount Isa, Cairns, Townsville and Mackay.

In her current role within the Preventive Health Branch, Brisbane, Madonna manages the implementation of the statewide smoking cessation strategy to support all Queenslanders to quit smoking, with a specific focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, pregnant women and their partners, people living in regional, rural and remote Queensland, and people experiencing disadvantage.

Dr Raglan Maddox

Australian National University

Dr. Raglan Maddox (Modewa Clan, Papua New Guinea) is leading the evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program. The evaluation is a collaboration between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector, the Menzies School of Health Research’s Tobacco Control Research Program and the Australian National University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program. This work is focusing on quantifying the impact and outcomes of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Regional Tobacco Control Grants on smoking prevalence and other tobacco-related indicators.

Dr. Maddox’s program of research has focused on developing population based Indigenous heath info-systems using community driven processes. This research has been generating primary data platforms to better understand and improve Indigenous health and wellbeing, including mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Such health information systems work with Indigenous communities and service providers to obtain information to better understand, inform and evaluate programs and policies, such as tobacco use. His program of research has also included strengths-based conversations about respectful relationships and preventing domestic violence.

Ms Trudy McInnis

Department of Health

Mr Shane Mohor

Aboriginal Health Council South Australia (AHCSA)

Shane Mohor is currently the CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA) and has been with the AHCSA since 2010. AHCSA is the peak body for the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health and Substance Misuse Services across South Australia. Shane has worked in Aboriginal health as a Registered Nurse and Senior Executive in Government, University and Non-Government Organisations for over 30 years in South Australia as well as interstate.

Shane has a passion for the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and is strongly committed to improving the health and well-being status of Aboriginal people. He is very supportive of collaborative research projects that are Aboriginal led, owned and driven, and that will provide positive outcomes for the Aboriginal Community. He is also strongly committed to the advancement of employment for all Aboriginal people, in particular for Aboriginal Health Workers.

Shane is a Board Member (treasurer) of both Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA Inc. and the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network Boards, Chairperson Speech Pathology Australia, Aboriginal Committee, Director, Australian Medical Council, Aboriginal and Maori Committee, AHCSA member to the South Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Network.

Mr Andrew Perusco

Department of Health

Andrew Perusco has worked in health promotion and population health for over 20 years. Throughout this time, tobacco control project implementation, evaluation and policy development has been a large focus of his work.

Andrew is a former Vice-President and founding member of the Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals. He has published tobacco control articles, presented evaluation findings at population health conferences in Australia, and has peer reviewed articles submitted to the NSW Public Health Bulletin (2007), Australian Journal of Smoking Cessation (2007), and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2006).

Andrew has held a leadership role in tobacco control strategy and product regulation in the Tobacco Control Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Health since 2010. In April 2016, he joined the Preventive Health Section to support the roll out of the revised Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program, and broader tobacco control policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Mr Rod Reeve

Managing Director, Ninti One Ltd

Rod Reeve has been the Project Director of NBPU TIS since 2015. He is also the Managing Director of Ninti One Limited, a not-for-profit Indigenous company that leads the consortium delivering the NBPU TIS.

Rod has managed several important health programs over the last 30 years, including Ninti’s health portfolio where he works with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people. He has worked in over 50 countries, managing the implementation of a range of major aid programs for the governments of Australia, the UK, the US and the World Bank. He was the Project Director of a 10-year health program in eastern Indonesia that significantly reduced maternal and infant mortality.

Rod was previously the CEO of the 7-year Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, which has the objective of ‘addressing the high levels of social, economic, health and education disadvantage experienced by people living in remote Australia, and in particular, the impact of social exclusion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people’.

Professor David Thomas

Head of Tobacco Control Research, Menzies School of Health Research

Professor David Thomas has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and health research for nearly 30 years including working as a doctor for three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

David established and has led the Tobacco Control Research Program at Menzies since 2007. He has completed research about many aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control, including the national Talking About The Smokes project, a randomised control trial, Cochrane reviews, qualitative research (including the examination of historical tobacco industry documents), evaluations of local and national policies and projects, and monitoring trends in smoking. This work has been in collaboration with Australian and international researchers, including many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, and in close partnership with communities and organisations, especially Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Ms Gail Turnbull

Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service 

Ms Turnbull is a descendant of the Kamilaroi tribe of South West Queensland. She is the Regional Tobacco Coordinator for Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service – Solid Mob.

Solid Mob delivers the national Tackling Indigenous Smoking program across the Northern Rivers region. Ms Turnbull has been with Solid Mob for over three years.

Associate Professor Penney Upton

University of Canberra

Penney is an experienced research psychologist whose work focuses on the improvement of health and healthcare services. Her research interests include health behaviours, patient reported outcomes, the implementation of evidence based practice, and health service evaluation.

She has led projects related to quality of life and wellbeing in chronic illness and long-term conditions, family weight management and children’s eating behaviours, alcohol and tobacco use in adulthood, and the training and support of healthcare professionals to apply evidence based practice. Study findings have resulted in changes to policy and strategy both nationally and internationally.

In 2014 she led the University of Canberra’s independent review of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Healthy Lifestyles Program, which was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Health. She has been a part of the NBPU TIS since its beginning, where her role is the Population Health Promotion Knowledge and Research Officer.