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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 (CCV), the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Cancer Council Australia (CCA) based at CCV in Melbourne, Australia. It was established in February 2012.

Our vision

A world free from preventable cancers and in which all people affected by cancer have equitable access to safe, effective and affordable cancer treatment and care

Our mission

To promote the effective use of law for the prevention and control of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases by building knowledge, expertise, capacity and networks at global, regional and domestic levels

Our work

Our work is broad, spanning the full spectrum of cancer prevention and control:

Prevention: including tobacco control, with a focus on legal challenges to implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in our role as a WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub; overweight and obesity prevention; prevention of alcohol-related harm

Control: including availability, accessibility, safety, quality and efficacy of cancer treatments and services, and supportive care services; support for patients and health practitioners making medical treatment decisions; regulation, qualification and education of health practitioners; collection and use of health information; protection of the rights of people affected by cancer

Our work consists of:

Research and analysis: We conduct high-quality legal and policy research and analysis.

Making connections and shaping thinking: We make connections across apparently disparate areas of law, research, policy and practice, shaping the way in which challenges and opportunities are understood and approached.

Generating and sharing knowledge: We produce high-quality publications and resources, and share them for use by others around the world.

Training and capacity building: We conduct a wide range of training and capacity building activities for governments, intergovernmental organisations, civil society organisations, health professionals and people affected by cancer, through which we support others to develop and enhance their knowledge, skills and confidence.

Developing and fostering networks: We bring together people from different countries, sectors, cultures, disciplines and settings, and develop and foster global, regional and national networks of information exchange, peer support and collaboration.

You can read more about work, our values, our strengths, our goals and our plans in our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan .

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 at the McCabe Centre focuses on global governance and regulation of NCD risk factors and the interrelationship between NCD prevention, trade and investment law, human rights and sustainable development with a focus on overweight and obesity prevention. She is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International’s Policy Advisory Group. Prior to joining the McCabe Centre, Anita practised as a lawyer specialising in human rights law in relation to asylum seekers and people with a mental illness 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.

Samantha Robertson
Samantha Robertson is the McCabe Centre's office manager. Samantha provides administrative and operational support to the Centre, including financial, logistical, contracts, human resources and IT, and coordinates key events including the Centre’s ILTP and other education and training activities. Samantha has over 20 years of experience working in administration, business support, accounting and customer service. She has worked within Government, Private sector and Not-for-Profits in Sydney and Melbourne. Samantha holds a Diploma in Business Administration.

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 from the Australian Government

We conduct our international legal training program with primary funding support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs Trade, and our perform our WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub responsibilities with funding support from the Australian Department of Health.

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'.