McCade Centre : For Law and Cancer
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About Us

The McCabe Centre Ι Our Director Ι McCabe Centre Supporters Ι Rolah McCabe Ι About the McCabe Case

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 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. 

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'.