The Winner of the 2022 Levinia Crooks Emerging Leaders Award in Viral Hepatitis

June 27, 2022

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It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of the ASHM 2022 Levinia Crooks Emerging Leaders Award in Viral Hepatitis is Tom Wright. 

This year the Levinia Crooks Emerging Leaders Award focused on acknowledging and celebrating an outstanding individual within the Justice and Correctional Health Sector, where viral hepatitis remains a serious and significant public health challenge. HCV infections are at least 25 times higher within the custodial system and therefore providing critical interventions to educate, treat and reduce transmission is both incredibly important and extremely challenging.  

The awards were announced at the 2022 Viral Hepatitis Conference in Brisbane and were presented to the recipients by last year’s Levinia recipient – Megan Huges.  

Again, this year all our nominees were incredibly impressive, and the adjudicators have not only chosen Tom Wright as the winner, but felt a special mention was in order. That special mention is Lise Lafferty. 

The other impressive nominees for this year’s award were:  

Melissa Wright, Mim O’Flynn and Yumi Sheehan 

Our Winner! Tom Wright  

Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (the Network) 

 Tom Wright is a Harm Reduction Coordinator for the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (the Network) and has been instrumental in leading Harm Reduction in correctional settings across Australia. One of his many achievements was establishing the first and only Harm Reduction Reference Group (HRRG) for Correctional settings – which has membership from the Network, Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW), various high level research organisations and non-government organisations (NGO). 

He has also successfully piloted a harm reduction and hepatitis peer education program and is now moving into phase 2, developing a facilitator’s manual so that it can be rolled out across the state.  

Tom co-designed resources on syringe cleaning, overdose awareness and prevention, Hepatitis C testing and treatment and also for patients released into the community whilst on Hepatitis treatment and is actively involved in ensuring that patients, Network staff and CSNSW staff receive education on harm reduction and Hepatitis. 

Our Special Mention! Dr Lise Lafferty  

Centre for Social Research in Health and the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney 

Dr Lise Lafferty is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health and the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.  

Lise has established herself as an Emerging Leader in the Viral Hepatitis Justice and Correctional Health Sector through her leadership of qualitative research across several studies in the prison setting. This includes her doctoral research (Social capital and hepatitis C (HCV) treatment uptake among men in prison, the Surveillance and Treatment of Prisoners living with hepatitis C (SToP-C) study (the first real-world trial of HCV treatment as prevention), and PIVOT (the first prison-based pilot evaluating HCV RNA fingerstick point-of-care testing in Australia). 

She co-supervises two PhD students and provides mentorship to a PhD student, a research nurse, and someone with lived experience. 

Our Incredible Nominees!  

Mim O’Flynn 

Kombi Clinic 

Mim is both a nurse and inspirational leader, who has a natural gift of bringing people together on a shared vision and creating remarkable outcomes. As well as Mim’s work with the infamous Kombi Clinic, her leadership in the Correctional Central Point of Care Testing (POCT) blitz across multiple correctional centers in Queensland has resulted in achieving a world-first accomplishment of screening extremely high numbers of people in prison over a short period of time.  

With Mim’s coordination and leadership – the blitz has resulted in over 1600 people within correctional facilities tested and 250 people ultimately treated.

Yumi Sheehan 

Kirby Institute / National Prisons Hepatitis Network 

Yumi is a both a project coordinator and PhD student, currently working across multiple research projects with a focus on enhancing access to hepatitis C testing and treatment for prisoners, including coordination of the PIVOT study, National Prisons Hepatitis Education Project, the National Prisons Hepatitis Network (NPHN), and the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users – Prisons Network (INHSU Prisons).  She is also leading AusHep, which seeks to fill a key gap in national blood borne virus surveillance via a biobehavioural survey of a representative sample of prisons and prisoners with interviews regarding risk behaviour, testing and antiviral treatment uptake, and blood sampling to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.  

Melissa Wright 

St Vincent’s Correctional Health Service 

 Melissa is currently the coordinator of the Blood Borne Virus and Immunisation Service at St Vincent’s Correctional Health Service. In 2018, Melissa was instrumental in the coordination and implementation of one of the most successful immunisation programs for both prisoners and prison staff at Port Phillip Prison during the hepatitis A outbreak. She has fully supported the implementation of the Statewide Hepatitis Program in Victorian prisons and her rates of immunisation in her cohort are second to none. Melissa is regarded by her peers as an important leader for BBVs and STIs in the Victorian correctional health system, where she advocates tirelessly on behalf of prisoners. 

A huge congratulations to both Tom and Lise and all our extremely impressive nominees.  

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