Professor Lisa Maher Named Winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Reducing the Harms of Drug Use in Australia and Across the Asia/ Pacific Region
The Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in making a significant commitment and contribution to reducing the impact and negative effects of drug and alcohol use in Australia was awarded to Professor Lisa Maher at the 2013 National Drug and Alcohol Awards (NDAA) at Parliament House in Canberra tonight (Thursday, 20 June 2013).
Professor Maher from the University of New South Wales is one of Australia's leading drug researchers focusing on blood borne viruses.
She has conducted research that has not only broken new ground in relation to drug use and related harms, but has also involved ethical and on-going engagement with affected populations.
Dr John Herron AO, Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs, announced the winner on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, in a letter which said:
“The heavy burden of drug and alcohol abuse is felt by thousands of individuals, families and communities across Australia. Tonight, we recognise the efforts to reduce this burden, and we pay tribute to those who have so selflessly dedicated themselves to the cause. In particular, we honour Professor Lisa Maher, whose great work in reducing the harms of drug use in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific has been rightly honoured by the conferral of this year’s Prime Minister’s Award.
Professor Maher has an outstanding record of research, with a particular focus on prevention of infectious disease in vulnerable populations. Her academic achievements are matched by a commitment to translating research into action, thus bringing vital community services such as vaccination, counselling and education to many people. This work is emblematic of the outstanding efforts made by all our clinicians, researchers, community workers, educators and advocates to assist those affected by drug and alcohol abuse. In so many ways, seen and unseen, you bring hope to those who need hope the most. Our nation owes you an immense debt of admiration and gratitude.”
The nomination of Professor Maher indicated that her work was unique in the Australian context meaning that, in addition to producing research of the highest quality, Professor Maher had lead community based activities with affected community members, provided services for those in need and established scholarships for people of disadvantaged backgrounds.
She is currently responsible for a national program in viral hepatitis surveillance in Australia, which includes the country’s internationally renowned system for monitoring HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs. Her research focuses on the prevention of infectious disease in vulnerable populations, including observational studies and trials of biomedical and behavioural prevention interventions.
Professor Maher plays a significant role in Australia, but also in the region more broadly, providing technical advice and assistance in a range of countries in South East and Central Asia.
Her academic work, which combines qualitative and quantitative methods, has had specific outcomes in developing and enhancing services for people who inject drugs in particular.
The 2013 Awards, a collaborative initiative involving the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF), and the Ted Noffs Foundation (Noffs), also saw Awards for Excellence presented in either other Categories including:
- Prevention and Community Education
- Treatment and Support
- Services for Young People
- Law Enforcement
- Alcohol and other Drugs Media Reporting
- School Drug Education, and
- Creating Healthy Sporting Communities.
NDAA Honour Roll inductees were Dr Rod MacQueen from the Lyndon Community in New South Wales and Ms Wendy Casey from the Western Australia Drug and Alcohol Office in Perth.
The Awards are designed to not only raise awareness of the harms caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol and misuse of other drugs, but also recognise the commitment of the frontline works across the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector.
For more information regarding category winners go to the 2013 Media Release Page.
Contact Mr Brian Flanagan, NDAA Event Manager, phone 02 6215 9802 (w)/ 0400 860 058 (m), or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.