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Tanya Buchanan

Cancer Council Australia

Tanya Buchanan

Professor Tanya Buchanan was Cancer Council Australia’s Chief Executive Officer from November 2020 to May 2024.

When Tanya stepped into the CEO position, she brought a proven track record in leading organisations to improve health outcomes; having held the role of Chief Executive Officer of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in Wales, United Kingdom. There, she worked with the sector on the introduction of smoke-free premises and drove the formation of a Wales-specific tobacco control strategy in collaboration with the Welsh Government. She has also held positions as the CEO of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, Executive Director of the International Association for Public Participation Australasia, and Divisional Manager for Community, Cultural and Economic Development at Wollongong City Council.

Tanya was drawn to issues of social justice and health policy while completing an arts degree at Murdoch University. She subsequently studied Nursing at Curtin University of Technology and an MBA in Health Services at Edith Cowan University. Tanya has completed a PhD focused on tobacco control in Australia and proudly holds a range of qualifications including being a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course (GAICD). 

Tanya commenced her career as a Registered Nurse working in oncology and neurosurgery. She has worked for the Red Cross Blood Service Australia, in academia, local government and the voluntary sector. Tanya is also an Honorary Professor of Practice at the School of Health & Society (Public Health) at the University of Wollongong and continues to be active in public health research and practice.

In her time as CEO, Tanya worked hard to grow Cancer Council Australia’s leadership, culture and impact. As CEO, she successfully advocated for Federal Government funding for public health and cancer programs, delivered major national public health campaigns including the award-winning Get2It National Bowel Cancer Screening Campaign, and lobbied to secure Government and community support for evidence-based best practice public health policy.

Professor Tanya Buchanan said:

When we can address factors that influence cancer and cancer prevention, we also have success around respiratory and heart health and other chronic disease. So that public health piece of cancer prevention and control is actually much broader; it’s about improving health outcomes more generally and prevention of chronic disease nationally."

She also navigated Cancer Council Australia through significant change in management processes and built a vibrant, supportive workplace culture that saw the organisation named Voice Workplace of the Year two years running. 

Megan Varlow is Cancer Council Australia’s interim Chief Executive Officer, following the departure of Professor Tanya Buchanan in May 2024 to Dementia Australia.