Reflections from our Melbourne Law School intern: Jo Wang

Monday 7 June, 2021


Jo Wang spent the past few months as our intern through the Melbourne Law School Public Interest Law Initiative Internship Program, which allows law students to apply their knowledge practically, while making important contributions to our work for subject credit.

After making major contributions to McCabe Centre's work during her internship, we asked Jo to reflect on her experiences and what she will take forward in her bright future ahead.

Why are you interested in public health law?

Coming from an education background of social science, and more specifically journalism, I have always been interested in public health issues, including the influence of broader economic, legal and social factors.

My particular interest in public health law was sparked during my time as a policy analyst in a global non-profit organisation fighting poverty, disease and inequity worldwide.

During that time, I was fortunate to conduct policy research in partnership with international medical professionals on different public health topics. I assisted with several pilot public health campaigns in low- and middle-income countries, such as the HIV Rapid Testing Campaign and the Tobacco Control Campaign.

I observed that advancing the law was a key component of these and other public health projects. Legal developments like indoor smoking bans, for example, were able to change social norms around tobacco use, alongside social marketing campaigns. I was amazed to see the power of legislation to promote public health, and naturally this experience fuelled my passion for public health law and led me to pursue my legal dream at Melbourne Law School.

What motivated you to do an internship with the McCabe Centre?

There were two main reasons that motivated me to apply for the placement at the McCabe Centre.

Firstly, my passion for public health law drove my desire to learn more about how law and policies can advance our overall health and address health equity issues. McCabe Centre initiatives involve all my favourite topics, from the law to global public health issues and policies.

Secondly, I was curious about the unique role of the McCabe Centre as a joint initiative of Cancer Council Victoria and the Union for International Cancer Control. It was inspiring to learn how the McCabe Centre is building capacity in critical areas of legal and policy matters in Australia while developing a global network of lawyers working collaboratively in cancer prevention and control.

What did you work on during your internship, and what knowledge did you gain from it?

I was fortunate to work on legal research tasks across a wide range of topics, including international investment disputes, health equity issues connected to energy and environmental law, medical misinformation and other health-related legal matters.

I was excited to assist with preparing content for the McCabe Centre’s online legal training course, which taught me about Australia's world-first tobacco plain packaging laws and the role of law in advancing Universal Health Coverage.

I also researched and drafted my first legal memo about how to address the concerning increase of cancer misinformation spreading online, including how different jurisdictions are approaching the regulation of tech companies to deal with misinformation and disinformation. This work was very rewarding, as I learned how to accurately identify critical legal issues and strategically structure a legal memo. The process also reaffirmed for me how important attention to detail is for a lawyer.

What are your plans after your internship?

As my internship comes to an end, I am more than grateful I took the leap and had the opportunity to be part of the McCabe Centre. It offered me a new perspective on how a legal team can make a global impact by advancing law. It also gave me a greater understanding of how law interacts with so many different issues.

In the future, I aspire to learn more about the legal field, and I’m ready to embrace the opportunities that are intellectually stimulating and challenging to me.

***

Internships at the McCabe Centre are organised through our formal collaboration with Melbourne Law School. Students from Melbourne Law School interested in applying for an internship with the McCabe Centre can find more information about the opportunity here

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