Burnet Institute recognises the sad passing of Adjunct Associate Professor Levinia Crooks AM, who was CEO of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) for the past 18 years, and pays tribute to a leader in the field.
Associate Professor Crooks’ enormous contribution to Australia’s HIV and broader blood-borne virus and sexual health response was acknowledged by Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Professor Margaret Hellard.
“Levinia worked tirelessly with community, clinicians, other health service staff and government to develop and shepherd changes to policy and practices of HIV, blood borne virus and sexual health in Australia, directly improving the lives of many people affected by these diseases,” Professor Hellard said.
“In more recent years, Levinia used this experience to help similar community organisations in our region improve the HIV and viral hepatitis response in their own countries.
“A woman of enormous energy and enthusiasm, Levinia will be remembered for her significant and sustained personal and professional contribution to the sector. She will be greatly missed.”
Associate Professor Crooks passed away on 16 October 2017, aged 56, after a long and courageously fought illness, ASHM said yesterday. She is survived by her mother, Judy.
She was CEO of ASHM from November 1999 to September 2017, stepping down from the role just a month before her death.
Associate Professor Crooks served for over 30 years as a champion for people’s rights in the health sector, supporting friends and colleagues impacted by HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, and conducting social research to inform development of counselling and support services for people living with HIV.
She was always inclusive, and supported and promoted the dignity of others. As an advocate she was optimistic and inspiring and never held back by the expectations of governments or other donors.
Associate Professor Crooks always thought globally but from a sense of what mattered, not from personal ambition. She could work in inclusive ways with the poorest, the sickest and the excluded, but also with governments, health workers, researchers and big pharmaceutical companies.
She was determined and competent in every professional task she took on and was central to many partnership endeavours.
Associate Professor Crooks also served as President of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) and Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, as well as on the Board of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations. 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 ACON’s President’s Award, in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people affected by HIV and AIDS.
ASHM said: “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.
“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 bring her formidable intelligence, wit and problem solving abilities to the table.”
Burnet Deputy Director (Programs) Professor Margaret Hellard spoke to Joy FM about the life and contribution of Levinia Crooks. You can listen here.