McCade Centre : For Law and Cancer
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About Us

Our Director Ι McCabe Centre Staff Ι McCabe Centre Support Ι Rolah McCabe 

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 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 with other disciplines

The McCabe Centre 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’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.  

About the Director

Jonathan is a lawyer with over fifteen years' experience in legal and policy research, advice, training and technical support relating to cancer control at both domestic and global levels. His work covers 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, particularly in relation to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (in relation to the availability of controlled medicines for the relief of pain). Under Jonathan’s leadership, the McCabe Centre has become a WHO FCTC knowledge hub, assisting the Convention Secretariat to facilitate the exchange of information and cooperation between Parties to the Convention, with a focus on legal challenges to implementation of the Convention.

Jonathan has published extensively on the relationships between law and cancer control, and co-edited two books (with Professors Tania Voon and Andrew Mitchell), Public Health and Plain Packaging of Cigarettes: Legal Issues, and Regulating Tobacco, Alcohol and Unhealthy Foods: The Legal Issues.

Jonathan is a member of the Australian Government’s Expert Advisory Group on Plain Packaging and National Expert Reference Group on Tobacco.

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. 

McCabe Centre Staff  

Sondra Davoren
Sondra Davoren is a senior legal policy advisor working in alcohol law and policy, specifically, legal and regulatory interventions to reduce alcohol-related cancers; and the role of law in cancer treatment and supportive care. Prior to joining Cancer Council Victoria, Sondra worked as a legal advisor at the Victorian Legal Services Board and in multi-party litigation for Irwin Mitchell Solicitors (UK), specialising in product liability claims. Sondra has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom and is currently undertaking a Masters of Law at the University of Melbourne.

Anita George
Anita George is a senior legal policy advisor. Prior to joining the McCabe Centre, Anita practised as a lawyer with King & Wood Mallesons, Victoria Legal Aid and the Mental Health Legal Centre and worked as a consultant with the health policy section of the OECD in Paris. She has first class honours degrees in Law and Arts (Psychology) from the University of Tasmania. She was awarded a General Sir John Monash Foundation Scholarship to complete a Masters of Public Affairs at Sciences Po Paris and also holds a diploma in Law and Strategy in humanitarian action, health, emergency and development from University Paris 8.

Deborah Lawson
Dr Deborah Lawson is a legal policy advisor, working on the McCabe Centre's law, cancer treatment and supportive care work, including the project supported by funding from the Legal Services Board of Victoria's major grants program. Deborah trained and practiced as a lawyer in New Zealand, before undertaking a public health related PhD in law, which examined child protection laws. Deborah has previously worked as a research fellow on the New Zealand Law Foundation-sponsored Human Genome Research Project, exploring regulatory options for genetic testing of children and young people. Since moving to Melbourne in 2007 she has worked as an advocate for young people with disabilities, and in multicultural youth policy. She has also lectured in youth research and policy at Australian Catholic University and Victoria University.

Elizabeth Holzer
Elizabeth Holzer is a legal policy advisor, working on the global access to pain relief initiative with a focus on legal and regulatory barriers that prevent access to opioid analgesics. Elizabeth also works in the area of alcohol law and policy. Prior to joining Cancer Council Victoria, Elizabeth worked as a lawyer at Ashurst (formerly Blake Dawson) specialising in intellectual property litigation. This work included representing clients in trademark, copyright and patent disputes in the Federal Court of Australia. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Science (Major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from the University of Melbourne.

Sonia Brockington
Sonia Brockington is the Knowledge and Training Manager. Prior to her role at the McCabe Centre, Sonia worked as a lecturer of Nutrition and Dietetics at Deakin University. With a background in nutrition, Sonia has previously worked in a number of clinical dietetics positions in Australia and the UK. Sonia holds a particular interest in international health having worked in humanitarian roles in The Sudan and Timor Leste. Sonia holds a Bachelor of Health Science with Honours (Nutrition and Dietetics) from Newcastle University; a Master of Public Health (International Health) from the University of Melbourne; and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education from Deakin University. 

Support for the McCabe Centre's legal training program 

The McCabe Centre receives aid funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support participation in its legal training program. The funding will support the participation of 90 government officials from developing countries in the Indo-Pacific Region in six three-week intensive courses run at Cancer Council Victoria between 2015-7. The legal training program also receives funding support from Cancer Council Australia.

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 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'.