McCade Centre : For Law and Cancer
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About Us

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer is a joint initiative of Cancer Council Victoria and the Union for International Cancer Control. Its mission is to contribute to the effective use of the law for cancer prevention, treatment, supportive care and research. 

The McCabe Centre conducts research, policy development, capacity building and advocacy. It employs lawyers, and hosts international interns and fellows, law student interns and pro bono secondees in a multidisciplinary environment that includes expertise across cancer control generally, including epidemiology and behavioural science. It brings together lawyers, legal academics and cancer control experts and advocates. It collaborates with other non-governmental organizations, law schools and legal practitioners, and works, as appropriate, with governments and intergovernmental organizations.   

The McCabe Centre is the only centre of its kind in the world. It aims to help build capacity globally in the effective use of law for cancer control, working with member organizations of UICC, the leading global cancer control non-governmental organization, with over 760 member organisations across 155 countries. 

The McCabe Centre:

  • conducts research, policy development, advocacy and training
  • develops and disseminates materials on the relationship between law and cancer control
  • provides cancer control organizations and others with an interest in cancer control with a place (both real and virtual) to go for information
  • provides a forum for discussion and sharing of information and experiences
  • connects lawyers, legal academics and law students with cancer control researchers and advocates and with other disciplines (eg public health, behavioural research, health economics, medicine)

The McCabe Centre’s current areas of focus are the key cancer prevention areas of tobacco and alcohol control and obesity prevention, access to medicines, and cancer treatment and supportive care. Its work spans diverse areas of domestic and international law including health law, consumer protection law, constitutional law, trade law, investment law, intellectual property law, drug control law and human rights law.  

Governance of the McCabe Centre

The McCabe Centre is a joint initiative between Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

Organizationally, the McCabe Centre is a programme of Cancer Council Victoria, based in Melbourne, Australia. The McCabe Centre is headed by its Director, Jonathan Liberman.

The work of the McCabe Centre is guided by an Advisory Committee composed of leading Australian and international lawyers and cancer control experts, co-chaired by Professor David Hill and Peter Gordon. The CEO of UICC, Cary Adams, is a member of the Advisory Committee.

The members of the Advisory Committee are: 

  • Cary Adams (UICC)
  • David Byrne SC (former EU Commissioner for Health, Patron of Health First Europe)
  • Professor Mike Daube (Curtin University)
  • Professor Mark Davison (Monash Law School)
  • Professor Jeff Dunn (Cancer Council Queensland)
  • Professor Carolyn Evans (Melbourne Law School)
  • Glenys Fraser (CCV Board)
  • Peter Gordon (Gordon Legal)
  • Andrew Grech (Slater and Gordon)
  • Professor Margaret Hamilton (CCV Board)
  • Professor Rob Moodie (University of Melbourne)
  • Professor Ian Olver (Cancer Council Australia)
  • Professor David Hill (CCV/UICC)
  • Anne Lise Ryel (Norwegian Cancer Society)

About the Director

Jonathan Liberman is a lawyer with fifteen years' experience in legal and policy research, advice and advocacy on issues relating to cancer control at both domestic and global levels. His work has covered a wide range of issues relating to cancer prevention, treatment, supportive care and research.

Jonathan has participated in numerous international intergovernmental meetings as both an expert and NGO representative. He was rapporteur of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) expert group on cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and an expert adviser to the WHO FCTC working group that developed guidelines on Article 13 (tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) of the treaty. He was rapporteur of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) consultation on access to controlled medications for the relief of pain, and was engaged by UNODC to work on the review of its model laws relating to drug availability and control.

Jonathan is a member of the Australian Government’s expert advisory group on plain packaging and Standing Committee on Tobacco of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Drugs.

Between March 2006 and March 2009, Jonathan was Policy Director of the Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control (FCA), the major international non-governmental organisation working on the development and implementation of the WHO FCTC. In August 2009, he was appointed Senior Legal Policy Adviser to the UICC.

Jonathan has degrees in Arts and Law (first class honours) and a Master of Public and International Law. He is a Senior Fellow of the Melbourne Law School. 

Rolah McCabe

Rolah McCabe was an Australian woman with smoking-related lung cancer who brought a lawsuit against British American Tobacco Australia in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2001. Rolah’s case garnered international attention by exposing BAT’s systematic destruction of thousands of documents under its ‘Document Retention Policy’. The evidence that the McCabe case uncovered has been used by the US Department of Justice in its multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the US tobacco industry under anti-racketeering law.

After Rolah died, at 51, the case was continued by her children and was in the courts for almost 10 years. It was settled confidentially in March 2011. The McCabe family and their lawyers have contributed funds towards the establishment of the Centre to create a legacy to Rolah’s courage both in battling her cancer and in calling the tobacco industry to account.

For more information on Rolah McCabe's legal challenge, see 'About the McCabe Case'.

McCabe Centre Supporters

The McCabe Centre enjoys the support of VicHealth, the McCabe family, Gordon Legal, and Slater and Gordon. For over a decade, VicHealth has supported the development of legal policy work on tobacco control, alcohol control and obesity prevention. It was VicHealth's decision to establish and seed fund the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control at CCV in 2000 that enabled CCV to extend its expertise and capacity in public health law and policy. This expertise and capacity have since become important public health resources at state, national and international levels.  

The McCabe Centre is receiving funding support from the Australian Government to assist it to perform international aspects of its work relating to cancer prevention, particularly tobacco control in cooperation with the World Health Organization and the Secretariat to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.