Keith Lu joined our team as an 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.
Keith worked on various important projects during his internship, and so we asked him to share some highlights and reflect on his plans for the future.
What motivated you to do an internship with the McCabe Centre?
I’m passionate about the intersection between law and health, and COVID-19 has shown the essential role of different disciplines in administering public health initiatives and adapting them to rapidly changing circumstances.
The McCabe Centre’s unique approach works across different disciplines, different countries and different public health aims – including both prevention and treatment/supportive care. This allowed me to contribute to public health goals by tackling multiple areas and collaborating with staff across different countries.
Upon completing my internship, the McCabe Centre has exceeded my expectations. I worked with a strong support network that genuinely cares about the wellbeing of its staff. Not only was I given tasks that were tailored to my interests, but I also had the pleasure of attending a staff trivia night and weekly staff catchups. This internship showed me the importance of fostering a supportive work environment – something I will cherish for the rest of my professional journey.
Why are you interested in public health law?
Coming from a background in social and biological sciences, I am fascinated by the legal system’s ability to shape human behaviour and promote population health. Public health is so rich and diverse. There is no single path to positive health outcomes, but rather a multitude of factors carefully calibrated by health professionals, lawyers and policymakers.
I also feel strongly that health is a fundamental human right, and that global collaboration is essential to the welfare of all people. During my internship with the McCabe Centre, I had the pleasure of attending meetings involving stakeholders from multiple countries, and contributing to collaborations with the World Health Organization on tobacco control programs.
There is never a dull moment in public health law. It allows practitioners to gain diverse perspectives across multiple disciplines and be exposed to the legal framework of different jurisdictions.
What did you work on during your internship, and what knowledge/experience did you gain from it?
The highlight of my internship was my research into the legal entitlements of insecure workers in Australia, including delivery drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on a predicament faced by many, forced to choose between their health and a day’s pay. Insecure workers have no access to existing benefits, work unpredictable hours and have lower bargaining power. In the end, I felt a real sense of impact as my research assisted the McCabe Centre and Cancer Council Victoria in its submission to the Victorian Government’s upcoming Secure Work Pilot Scheme.
By researching international trade agreements, I also found public health outcomes to be inextricably tied to market forces, with the supply and demand of addictive substances on one hand and the availability of health services on the other. Through this internship, I developed a newfound appreciation for the role of commerce in public health.
Another research task I undertook was summarising voluntary assisted dying legislation across Australian states and territories. This allowed me to appreciate the utility of comparative legal analysis in legal practice, and how analysing the legal framework in different jurisdictions helps to account for the strengths and weaknesses of legal instruments and develop sound policies.
What do you hope to do after university?
I am not exactly sure about my future career path, but I hope to contribute to the advancement of population health in one way or another. The McCabe Centre’s internship program made me realise there are various ways to achieve this goal and equipped me with the skills to draw upon a wide range of materials to produce a coherent argument.
Going forward, the skills I gained from this internship will allow me to explore my interests in areas such as public health law, commercial law, as well as in medical litigation. I will keep an open mind and embrace all these opportunities in the legal industry.
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.