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Northern Territory Advisory Board

About us


Northern Territory Advisory Board

The National Heart Foundation of Australia values the commitment of the Northern Territory Advisory Board, which forms an essential component of our national arrangements, allowing the Heart Foundation to connect strategy, local community engagement and external stakeholder expertise.

Dr Marita Hefler (Chair)

Marita has designed and led several research projects and evaluations of public health programs in partnership with Australian Indigenous communities and previously in South East Asia. Her sectoral experience includes tobacco control, social media, health communication, health promotion, Indigenous health, youth health, prison health, lifecourse approaches to understanding health behaviour, blindness prevention and health services quality improvement.  Marita primarily works in the Tobacco Control Research Program, where her research interests include use of social media, smoke free prisons, phasing out commercial sales of cigarettes and monitoring tobacco industry activities. She has particular expertise in qualitative research approaches, and her broader research interests include lifecourse approaches to understanding health trajectories and health disparities.

She holds a Heart Foundation Australia Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and is a Chief Investigator on two National Health & Medical Research Council-funded projects. She is the News Editor for the BMJ specialist publication Tobacco Control. Marita co-supervises five PhD students and two masters research project students and is co-lecturer for Qualitative Research Methods in the Menzies Master of Public Health program.

Dr Marcus Ilton

Dr Ilton established Cardiac Services in Darwin and the Top End of the Northern Territory and has 15 years of experience in delivery of cardiac services to regional and remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

Dr Edwina Wing-Lun

An Interventional and General Cardiologist, Dr Wing-Lun is also a PHD Candidate. Her PhD will establish an ACS registry for the Top End. This will allow insights as to the differences between populations within the Top End and compared to other states or populations. There will be a special focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with the hope to define the gaps in care that contribute to THE GAP and allow these areas to be focussed on for change.

Mr Ashley Heath

Ashley Health has been a Partner at Ward Keller since 2010 and has practised in the Northern Territory since 1990. He joined Ward Keller in 2005 after 12 years as a senior lawyer in the Darwin branch of the Australian Government Solicitor and another four years in private practice.

Ashley is a partner in the firm’s resources and infrastructure team of five lawyers in Darwin and one in Alice Springs. His significant commercial law experience includes a wide range of resources and infrastructure projects and property developments.

Ashley has a wide range of experience in native title and Aboriginal land law and agreements, and regulatory requirements for major infrastructure and property projects in the Northern Territory.

He also has extensive property law experience in unit title scheme developments, pastoral land transactions and business sales.

Ms Kellie Kerin

Kellie Kerin is a proud Arrernte woman from Central Australia with 27 years of nursing experience. Kellie has worked in many rural and remote health services in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia.

Kellie is a team leader in the Workforce and Leadership Support Unit at the Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the peak organisation for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT. This followed her work as AMSANT’s Clinical COVID Advisor at the height of the epidemic in the NT.

As a First Nations Registered Nurse, Kellie is passionate about sharing her knowledge and mentoring Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Registered Nurses and medical students. Kellie is a strong advocate for health promotion and regularly gives keynote presentations and facilitates workshops and forums.

Kellie is a CRANAplus Fellow, a professional member of CATSINaM, and the NT First Peoples’ representative on the CRANAplus Nursing and Midwifery Roundtable.

Dr Bryce Brickley

Dr Brickley is a researcher, dietitian and program evaluator. He currently holds a research fellow position at Flinders University and is leading innovative research to support men's health and wellbeing in the Northern Territory. Bryce’s vision is for people and communities to have the knowledge, capacity, and capability to act on preventative health care and develop healthy habits. Prior to commencing at Flinders, Bryce coordinated the mixed-methods evaluation of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner’s Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program.

Bryce is an experienced primary health care researcher and has previously worked with the Gold Coast Primary Health Network to advocate and support general practice teams to deliver person-centred care. The success of his work demonstrates his strong knowledge and skills in community engagement, qualitative and quantitative research.

Dr Benjamin Jones

Ben is a junior doctor at Royal Darwin Hospital and Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford where he is completing his PhD on rheumatic heart disease. He is an honorary fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research and is involved in a rheumatic heart disease screening program across several communities in the Top End. Ben also recently joined the Deadly Heart Trek on Arrernte Country.

Ben completed his MD and Masters of Health Leadership and Management in Sydney. During this time, he was a non-executive director with the Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association and Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ben is a Murrawarri First Nations man from NSW and is honoured to be working with and learning from the people of the Northern Territory.

Dr Sara Zabeen

Dr Sara Zabeen is a public health lecturer and post-doc research associate at Flinders University, NT, Australia. She is an early career researcher who has recently completed her PhD from the Flinders Behavioural Health unit. Her research largely involves integrated care (improved cardiovascular health and quality of life in people with severe mental illness), social prescribing and recovery, Indigenous kidney health, climate change, and sustainable development. Dr Zabeen is an expert at qualitative methodology, realist evaluation and qualitative longitudinal analysis. She is the founder of Mental Health Professional Network- Darwin Chapter of Social Prescribing (2023), and Auritry Foundation (2020). The latter works to reduce plastic pollution and was recognised as a ‘climate advocate’ at the 16th UN climate change conference of youth (2022). She is a reviewer of 10 high ranked international health journals (Q1/Q2) and sits on the Flinders Human Research Ethics Committee.

Through her Heart Foundation NT advisory role, Dr Zabeen aims to promote cardiovascular self-management and social recovery in NT’s marginalised population groups such as those diagnosed with severe mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar etc.), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background. Dr Zabeen is a lived experience mental health researcher and belongs to the CALD community herself, which helps her to better understand these service users’ health seeking behaviours and find solutions accordingly.

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Last updated19 June 2024