Australia’s trusted independent immunisation experts

NCIRS recognises the ever-increasing opportunities to save lives and to better health through the equitable use of vaccines both in Australia and at regional and global levels. The impact of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) on public health and the importance of immunisation are recognised in the Global Vaccine Action Plan and the upcoming Immunisation Agenda 2030 (in draft) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Historically, NCIRS has had a range of engagement with colleagues and programs across the globe. From 2019, we are aiming to increase our reach to support strengthening of immunisation uptake via regional and global collaborations. This applies particularly to the Asia-Pacific region and is articulated in our Strategic Plan 2019–2023. Under this plan we are undertaking a number of activities, including work in the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) support and in spearheading the formation of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA). 

  • Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA)

    NCIRS led the formalisation of ARIA in April 2019 following consultations with key immunisation experts and partners from multiple Australian universities and research institutes. 

    Who are we

    Representing over 20 individuals and 12 organisations, ARIA comprises Australia’s leading experts with a breadth and depth of experience in immunisation and VPDs, who are widely recognised for their regional and international expertise. ARIA’s immunisation experts have a proven track record of engagement with countries and key stakeholder organisations in our region.

    Our goal 

    The goal of ARIA members is to come together to work collaboratively with governments, global immunisation partners, non-government organisations and other partners to strengthen and expand immunisation to reduce the impact of VPDs in our region. 

    Our guiding principles 
    1. Harmonisation: Harmonise efforts with and supportive of the regional work and normative standards of global immunisation partners
    2. Sustainability: Apply capacity building and systems strengthening principles to all of our work for sustainability at institutional, organisational and individual levels
    3. Collaboration: Prioritise inter-country learning and networks for mutual support, including recognition of the special needs of small island states
    4. Results-focused: Commit to measuring results, including metrics for policy and practice improvement, and increased strength of partnerships
    ARIA steering committee members


    ARIA F2F
    The Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA) was officially launched at the inaugural face-to-face meeting in October 2019. From left to right: Chloé  Damon (NCIRS), Julie Leask (The University of Sydney), Nigel Crawford (Murdoch Children's Research Institute), Chris Morgan (Burnet Institute), Fiona Russell (Murdoch Children's Research Institute), Kristine Macartney (NCIRS), Sarah Sheridan (NCIRS), Margie Danchin (Murdoch Children's Research Institute), Meru Sheel (Australian National University) and Heidi Williams (NCIRS). 


    For more information on ARIA or any of NCIRS's regional and global work, contact:

  • Partnership with WHO to support Timor-Leste NITAG

    NCIRS has partnered with WHO to provide direct support to the NITAG of Timor-Leste. This partnership is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, from 2019 to 2024, and forms part of Gavi’s post-transition plan for Timor-Leste as the country proceeds towards achieving a self-sufficient and financially sustainable national vaccination program. 

    NITAGs are multidisciplinary groups of national experts responsible for providing independent, evidence-informed advice to policy makers and program managers on policy issues related to immunisation and vaccines. More information on the Global NITAG Network is available here. Established in November 2015, the Timor-Leste NITAG advises the Ministry of Health on the protection of the Timorese people from VPDs through immunisation.

    NCIRS joins other key WHO partners that provide direct support to NITAGs globally, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ProVac Initiative and the Supporting Independent Immunization and Vaccine Advisory Committees (SIVAC) Initiative

    TL photo
    NCIRS staff delivered a workshop in Dili, Timor-Leste, in September 2019. Workshop participants included members of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) Timor – Leste and the World Health Organization (WHO) staff.


  • Partnership with Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN)

    NCIRS is now part of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), which responds to ongoing or potential public health emergencies with the deployment of multidisciplinary staff and resources to affected countries. 

    Coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), GOARN is a network of over 200 technical institutions and networks globally, including Australian partners such as the Indo Pacific Centre for Health Security within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Burnet Institute and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Other global partners include the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many United Nations organisations such as UNICEF and international non-government organisations such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC). 

    According to WHO, GOARN contributes towards global health security by:

    • combating the international spread of outbreaks
    • ensuring that appropriate technical assistance reaches affected states rapidly
    • contributing to long-term epidemic preparedness and capacity building.

    NCIRS staff include experts in public health, preventive medicine, paediatrics, internal medicine, infectious diseases, epidemiology, social sciences and laboratory science, providing NCIRS with a broad base of expertise to contribute as a GOARN partner. 

    Our GOARN deployments

    Professor Julie Leask, University of Sydney Nursing School and NCIRS-affiliate Professorial Fellow in Social Sciences
    WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support & Samoa WHO Country Office | Suva, Fiji & Apia, Samoa | 7-22 January 2020

    Professor Julie Leask, who is also a member of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA), was deployed to Fiji and then to Samoa through WHO-GOARN where she supported risk communication activities in response to the measles outbreak in Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Julie assisted the development of various information products for measles outbreak response and recovery as well as communication strategies and key messages related to immunisation program implementation.

    Julie Leask WHO staff
    Julie Leask with staff from WHO offices in Samoa, Fiji, and the Philippines.









    Julie Leask Samoa
    A banner at the Samoa airport warns about measles risk. 

    Julia Maguire, NCIRS Infectious Disease Field Epidemiologist
    WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support | Suva, Fiji | 16 January - 7 February 2020

    Julia Maguire, who is also a member of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA), was deployed to Fiji to assist with the response to the measles outbreak in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICs). Julia supported the timely and accurate collection, collation and reporting of infectious disease hazard information in PICs, with a focus on measles, dengue and COVID-19. Julia also supported the preparation and action planning for COVID-19 in PICs, including risk assessments, travel advisories and surveillance activities.

    Julia Maguire Fiji WHO office
    Julia Maguire at the WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support in Suva, Fiji.


  • Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) affiliate membership

    The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is the peak council for Australian not-for-profit aid and development organisations. NCIRS was awarded affiliate membership status in October 2019 and shares ACFID's vision of a world where all people are free from extreme poverty, injustice and inequality.