Community Advisory Council Members

The Community Advisory Council can be contacted through the NT PHN Board Support Coordinator:
t 08 8982 1059

Ms Alison Jacks – Council Chair

Ms Alison Jacks has resided in Katherine for the past 15 years previously working in Sydney, Darwin and East Timor before moving to Katherine to establish the quarantine service within the Katherine region. She has worked primarily in the government sectors holding positions in the technical, community development, emergency services and management and compliance areas. Whilst employed by the NT Government she undertook auditing and quality assurance roles as well as negotiations with international military forces in compliance, negotiated international and domestic trade requirements, and worked with the NT Shire reform as a Community Development Officer. Furthermore, Alison is trained in fire and rescue procedures, disaster recovery risk management and emergency management. When working in the federal government she held similar roles as to the NT government positions but also included management of national employment contracts, tender assessments, implementation and development of programs introduced as part of the NT Emergency Response. As a Federal contract manager, Alison managed Indigenous Employment Programs (IEP) and sat on the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations IEP assessment panel. Alison is currently employed by the Department of the Attorney -General and Justice, Domestic Violence Directorate as the Katherine Project Officer, implementing the NT Reduction in Domestic and Family Violence Strategy 2014-2017 – Safety is Everyone’s Right. Nearly all of her work experience has involved undertaking risk analysis, which includes incidents of life threatening situations and economic impact to industry and livelihoods.

Alison has a strong focus on service delivery, and client satisfaction regardless of the environment. Alison’s belief is that service delivery goes beyond the ability to deliver just a service but also encompasses the ability to problem solve and negotiate using evidence based practise. 

Alison is strongly committed to the community having various roles on the Katherine Netball Association and Katherine Community Markets and regularly advocates for various community causes.

Alison is an engaging intelligent person who has a strong collaborative approach to her work and believes that networking and support encourages self-discipline, confidence and ownership and removes antagonism.

Professor James Smith – Deputy Chair

Professor James Smith is a Father Frank Flynn Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research. This role focuses on alcohol and other drugs harm minimisation. Prior to this appointment he was an Equity Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education hosted through the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University (CDU). He was also the Co-Lead of the Indigenous Leadership Research and Evaluation Network; and Program Manager for the Whole of Community Engagement initiative, at CDU. Previous to these roles he worked in the health and education settings across the NT. 

Professor Smith has research expertise in health promotion, prevention, community engagement, men’s health, Indigenous health, and Indigenous education. He is a Fellow of the Australian Health Promotion Association; and current Editor-in-Chief of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia. He is actively engaged in a range of community focused roles, including Board Member of the Heart Foundation (NT Division); and Deputy Chair of the Community Advisory Council of the NT Primary Health Network. He also holds honorary research appointments at the University of Sydney, CDU, Curtin University, and the University of Saskatchewan. 

James has led and managed over $9 million in competitive research grants and evaluation consultancies; and has won a range of national accolades for his research and professional achievements.

Ms Lesley Reilly

Ms Lesley Reilly came to the Northern Territory in 1973, and has worked in the remote communities of Port Keats, Santa Teresa and Alpurrululam before moving to Alice Springs in late 1987.

Following a diagnosis of breast cancer, Lesley was a founding member of Bosom Buddies, a support and advocacy group in Alice Springs for women and families affected by breast cancer. Motivated by her remote living experience, she has continued to engage as a consumer advocate with bodies in the health sector at a local, NT and national level.

In partnership with aboriginal breast cancer survivors and health professionals, Lesley developed and produced a multilingual, culturally-relevant education resource to improve awareness and uptake of screening and early detection of breast cancer amongst aboriginal women. This resource, “Listen You Women, Your Breasts are Precious” is being utilised in Central Australian traditional communities.

Mr Geoff Sloan

After graduating with an Honours Degree in Fine Art, Mr Geoff Sloan worked as a teacher in England, Papua New Guinea and the NT.

He has lived and worked for more than 40 years in the NT. During that time he gained post-graduate qualifications in Education Management and a Masters Degree in Public Sector Management. His career included Executive positions in both Education and Health, working in the wide areas of opportunity that the NT offers. After leaving the Public Sector he worked as a private consultant on projects in both Education and Health.

As well as being a member of the NT PHN’s Community Advisory Council he is currently a member of the NT’s Ministerial Advisory Council for Senior Territorians; a member of the Alice Springs Town Council’s Seniors’ Coordination Committee, a member of the National Seniors Australia NT Policy Advisory Group and a Board Member of the Connellan Trust. In 2017 his community work was recognised with the award of Centralian Senior Citizen of the Year.

Ms Kathleen Cole

Ms Kathleen Cole is the CEO of the Cancer Council Northern Territory. Kathleen has lived and worked in the Top End for the past 25 years. Working in diverse sectors of mining, local government, social justice and now health the common theme of her career has been cultivating community participation and an unwavering positivity about the power of individual. Kathleen started with the Cancer Council in 2013, bringing with her skills and experience from a diversity of sector. This diversity blends together well with the needs of a small organisation like the Cancer Council where each person needs to wear a couple of hats – and often make those hats as well!

Working in the Territory, Kathleen understands the cultural complexities and the injustices of the past that many people have endured. Kathleen has a Masters of Community Management (University of Technology Sydney) and a Graduate Diploma of Public Health (CDU) and is a member of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia. She also is an Certified Practicing Accountant (FCPA) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Kathleen faces the challenges working within this with complex and personal area of health with an innovative viewpoint. She will work with Territorians with the aim of achieving an equitable response to the health and social issues that cancer is placing on Territorians.

Ms Robyne Burridge

Ms Robyne Burridge came to the Territory in 1980 to coordinate the International Year for Disabled Persons (IYDP) 1981 for the Northern Territory Government. In recognition of her achievements during that year she was named Citizen of the Year by Darwin City Council. She continued to work in government across a broad range of disability services for 18 years before establishing her own disability brokerage business, Focus A Bility (FAB) working primarily in the areas of case management and advocacy.

In January 2010 until the change of government in 2012, Robyne was appointed a Ministerial Adviser in the area of disability, to the then Minister for Health and Families, Kon Vatskalis. Regarded by both government and non-government organisations as a leader, advocate and activist in the disability sector, Robyne is passionate about the need to empower people who have a disability and strives to ensure that like herself they have every opportunity to equality and quality of life. Representing the community for 20 years as an Alderman on Darwin City Council, including one year as Deputy Lord Mayor, Robyne believes she has developed a broad understanding of community needs and expectations, not just in the disability field.

Robyne’s work as a founding member of Integrated disAbility Action Inc., (IdA) an advocacy support organisation for people with disabilities and their family, was further recognised in April 2016, when she was made a Life Member. In December 2017 Robyne’s strong belief that people with disability have the same rights as anyone else in the community was recognised when she was announced as a joint winner of the Fitzgerald Social Change Award, as part of the NT Human Rights Awards. Robyne believes that with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, (NDIS) happening in Darwin on 1 July 2018, this particular Award is very timely given that the NDIS is regarded as the greatest social change in the history of disability. 


Ms Valda Shannon

Ms Valda Shannon resides in Tennant Creek.


Ms Toni-Anne Walker

Toni-Anne was born in Katherine NT. In the past she has worked in employment services before finding her role at the Katherine Australian Red Cross office as the Placed based Community Development Cultural Support Worker. Toni-Anne champions the Red Cross Fundamental principles to remain impartial and neutral while working in the Katherine community.

Toni-Anne has worked with the Katherine Suicide Intervention and Prevention Network (KSIPN) and Katherine Youth Justice Reinvestment (KYJR). She has presented and co-presented preparedness training to children and adults in Katherine, Daly River, Humpty Doo and Beswick. Toni-Anne actively supports community events such as White Ribbon, Mental Health Week, Youth Week and more. 


Ms Madeline Dirdi

Ms Madeline Dirdi lives in Gunbulanya and works at the Gunbalanya School.

Ms Anna Denson

Ms Anna Denson joined the Community Advisory Council in 2018. Anna is a Registered Nurse who grew up in the Top End spending her earlier years on Groote Eylandt and in Darwin. Anna completed all of her nursing training in the NT and has worked as a Registered Nurse for 15 years, with eight years spent in remote Nursing roles in the Top End. As a mother of four, Anna is passionate about the health of all Territorians and looks forward to contributing to positive change through her role with the Community Advisory Council.