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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 Liberman
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 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, and established an international legal training program that builds capacity and expertise in the use of law for cancer / NCD prevention and control, particularly in the context of developing coherence between health, trade, investment, human rights and sustainable development.

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 the Lancet Oncology Global Commission on Cancer Surgery.

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 is a senior legal policy advisor. She works on the role of law in cancer treatment and supportive care, including on access to treatment, anti-discrimination protections for people affected by cancer, end of life law and policy, and regulation of health information.  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). Sondra has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and the University of Sheffield (UK) and is currently undertaking a Masters of Law at the University of Melbourne.

Anita George
Anita George is a senior legal policy advisor. Anita's work focuses on the interplay between health, trade and investment law and the prevention of NCD risk factors through legal and other regulatory frameworks and interventions, including work undertaken as part of the McCabe Centre’s role as a WHO FCTC knowledge hub. 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 (Summa Cum Laude) 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. Deborah works on the McCabe Centre’s law, cancer treatment and supportive care work including issues relating to access to treatment, consent, regulation of healthcare practitioners, employment and insurance law protections for people affected by cancer and their families, and end-of-life law. Deborah trained and practised 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.

Suzanne Zhou
Suzanne Zhou is a legal research officer. Her work focuses on health, trade and investment law and NCD prevention, the McCabe Centre’s role as a WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub, and access to controlled medicines for cancer pain relief. Prior to joining the McCabe Centre, Suzanne was based at Lawyers Collective, a New Delhi-based human rights organization focusing on strategic litigation in HIV/AIDS, where she worked as a research officer supporting the mandate of Anand Grover as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health and managed the Global Health and Human Rights Database. Suzanne has also worked as a lawyer in the state government of Victoria, Australia. She holds a LLM (First Class) in international law from University of Cambridge and first class honours degrees in law and music from the University of Melbourne.

Clare Slattery
Clare Slattery is a legal research officer. Clare’s work focuses on the interplay between public health, trade and investment law in relation to NCD prevention, including tobacco control work undertaken as part of the McCabe Centre’s role as a WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub and regulation of the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets. Prior to joining the McCabe Centre, Clare worked as a legal consultant with the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials and as a legal research officer at the Supreme Court of Queensland Library. She holds degrees in law and economics from the University of Queensland.

Wendy McMillan
Wendy is the McCabe Centre’s Office Coordinator. Wendy provides administrative and operational support to the Centre, and organises key events including the Centre’s intensive legal training courses and other education and training activities. Prior to her role at the McCabe Centre, she worked in the corporate sector in senior administrative and executive support.

Regional Coordinators

Rachel Kitonyo Devotsu
Rachel is the Regional Coordinator for Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya. She leads the components of the McCabe Centre’s training and capacity-building programs that relate to the African region and provides technical support to governments in the African Region. Rachel has 11 years’ experience in cancer control ranging from drafting and lobbying for tobacco control legislation in Kenya, working on enforcement campaigns including training of government enforcement officers, media advocacy and defense as amicus curiae of 2 court cases filed by the tobacco industry challenging the Kenyan tobacco control legislation. Rachel has also worked with grantees in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to support national and regional advocacy campaigns for the implementation of the FCTC. In recognition of her work at national and regional level, in 2009 Rachel was awarded the Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids based in Washington DC. Rachel also has experience in capacity building and project management.

Daiana Buresova
Daiana Buresova is the Regional Coordinator for the Pacific, based in Suva, Fiji. She leads the components of the McCabe Centre’s training and capacity-building programs that relate to the Pacific Island region and provides technical support to Pacific Island governments. Daiana is a Fiji national who has worked for the past 18 years in the Pacific region in the areas of regionalism, legislative drafting, civil litigation, human rights and gender. Prior to her appointment, Daiana was exposed to and continues to work in regionalism which can be attributed to her work at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community - Human Rights programme. Daiana has a keen interest in women's rights in the context of access to law and SRHR.

Evita Ricafort
Evita is the Regional Coordinator for Asia, based in Manila, the Philippines. She leads the components of the McCabe Centre’s training and capacity-building programs pertaining to Asian countries in both WPRO and SEARO and provides technical support to governments in the Asia region (both WPRO and SEARO). Evita has worked in public health policy development and legal advocacy for the past six years and has experience in project management, formulation and implementation of tobacco control laws and policies, and litigation as a means to promote and protect law reform. Evita has served as legal consultant of the Philippines' Civil Service Commission and the Department of Health, most recently in the drafting of the regulations of the Graphic Health Warnings Law of 2014. She continues to assist the Philippine government in implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) through executive and legislative channels and in defending against legal changes to tobacco control policies.

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'.