It is with great sadness that the Board and staff of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) announces the passing of Adjunct Associate Professor Levinia Crooks, AM on 16th October 2017 after a long and courageously fought illness. Levinia was 56 and is survived by her mother, Judy.
Levinia’s contribution to the work of ASHM has been untiring, far-reaching, extraordinary and exemplary. She was Chief Executive Officer from November 1999 to September 2017 and has been a leading advocate in the Australasian and international BBV and STI field.
Levinia served for over 30 years as a champion for people’s rights in the health sector. She began in the 1980s supporting her friends and colleagues impacted by HIV/AIDS, conducting social research to inform the development of counselling and support services for people living with HIV. She also served as President of the AIDS Council of NSW and Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, as well as on the Board of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.
She applied her considerable experience and skills to push for dramatic changes in the viral hepatitis response and greater attention to sexual health needs. Her drive and focus on the needs of the workforce in HIV, viral hepatitis and sexual health pioneered ASHM as a provider of high quality resources and training. In this capacity she has written a wide range of educational resources and provided robust advocacy for many initiatives that resulted in increased access to HIV and viral hepatitis treatments.
In 2008 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to HIV policy, her care for people with HIV and her contribution to health generally. In 2015 she was further honoured with the ACON President’s Award in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people affected by HIV and AIDS.
Levinia leaves us all a major and extensive legacy to carry forward and build upon, with countless lives in our region positively impacted by her energetic, pragmatic, visionary, brave and can-do approach. Moreover she will be remembered as a warm and generous friend to so many ready to roll her sleeves up, get on with the work at hand and bringing her formidable intelligence, wit and problem solving abilities to the table.
Vale Levinia! You are sorely missed.
ASHM has collated your memories, significant events, anecdotes, photos and tributes to commemorate, celebrate and appreciate Levinia’s life, work and achievements for both an online book of remembrance and appreciation.
A/Prof Edwina Wright (Infectious Diseases Specialist at Alfred Health, Burnet Institute, Peter Doherty Institute) at 2017 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference delivered a memorial to Levinia.
As Chair of the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Western Australian Senator Dean Smith paid tribute to two inspiring leaders—Levinia Crooks and Neville Fazulla—who were "trailblazers instrumental in the fight against HIV” in a parliamentary address on 13 February 2018.
ASHM is proud to announce establishment of The Levinia Crooks Emerging Leader Award. Two awards will be given annually to recognise the outstanding work of emerging leaders’ in the field of Viral Hepatitis; and another working in Blood borne viruses and STIs (BBV and STI). The awards place importance on fostering emerging leaders to continue to develop leadership that is bold, innovative, inclusive and that inspires collaboration in the sector.
"Like many other organisations in our sector, ASHM has been operating for close to 30 years and over this time enormously value the 'veterans' in the BBV & STI responses who have often given their time and expertise often freely," said ASHM President, Associate Professor Mark Bloch.
"The purpose of these awards recognises the importance of replenishing those experts with those who are emerging as thought and practice leaders in the field; and help to think about succession planning and mentoring them to take up senior leadership roles in due course."
"Levinia was keenly aware of this and through a number of initiatives worked to ensure that those voices were both heard and recognised and personally coached and mentored a whole generation of new leaders, researchers and practitioners. ASHM is confident that she would be proud and pleased to be associated so closely with such a recognition and that it honours her legacy and mentoring practice while thinking about future challenges and service delivery improvements, so symbolic of her approach."