Over the past few months, we were fortunate to host Minting Luo through the Melbourne Law School Public Interest Law Initiative Internship Program. The program allows law students to apply their knowledge practically, while making important contributions to our work for subject credit. We asked Minting to share some of her experiences during her internship, her interests around law and cancer, and her aspirations for the future.
What motivated you to do an internship with the McCabe Centre?
I have long had a passion for interdisciplinary study in law and society, and an interest in legal research and policy analysis.
I was born in an ordinary working-class home in China and had a family member diagnosed with cancer, so I am well aware of the difficulties faced by cancer patients. The extraordinarily high cost of care, limited medical resources, and standardised-but-ineffective treatment caused my family and others like us to suffer physically, mentally and financially. These challenges triggered my interest to study how law and policy can intervene to improve people’s life.
Majoring in sociology during college allowed me to further explore these issues within the framework of social structure and institutional relations. Since being admitted to Melbourne Law School, I have remained highly curious about how to promote the public interest by making good use of the law.
The McCabe Centre’s internship program greatly aligns with my interests because of the centre’s commitment to preventing and controlling cancer through legal and policy interventions. It is also a wonderful place where I have fully utilised my research skills, building my capacity and enthusiasm for the interaction between law and society.
Why are you interested in public health law?
By promoting healthier lifestyles and detecting health issues earlier, public health can help prevent diseases, enhance quality of life, and protect health as a fundamental human right.
Public health law attracts me because law can be used as a powerful tool to improve public health and prevent illness. It is a growing and dynamic field, involving many fascinating topics like diseases prevention and treatment, drugs and food safety, human rights, and many more. Public health law also interacts with other practice areas of law such as tax law, employment law, administrative law, international law and so on.
Your internship went a little differently than originally planned. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your internship process?
Like many other organisations, the McCabe Centre had to close its Melbourne offices and work remotely because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, my law school decided to cancel all the student placements. As a result, my internship with the McCabe Centre, which was planned for March, was cancelled and had to be deferred to the second half of the year. It was a tough and frustrating time, but the McCabe Centre team was supportive and flexible.
In July, I was finally able to begin my internship. Though I didn’t have a chance to physically go to the office and see everyone in person, my experience with remote working has been entirely positive. Our team arranged various catch-ups and interesting virtual events that fostered a sense of community. I am lucky to feel closely connected to the centre and its people even during these times of disconnection.
What did you work on during your internship?
I mainly did two kinds of work at the McCabe Centre, both of which were interesting and very rewarding.
First, I reviewed and summarised cases and other legal developments in noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevention and control in various jurisdictions such as Australia, the UK and South Africa. For example, I drafted a case note about legal challenges to tobacco control regulations in South Africa that was posted on the website for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Knowledge Hub on Legal Challenges. It was a unique and unforgettable experience during which the McCabe Centre team provided very generous support.
I also provided support to the McCabe Centre team. For example, I helped with proofreading an article about the role of law in advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This helped sharpen my attention to detail, and also enabled me to gain a better understanding of the McCabe Centre and its focus areas.
What do you hope to do after uni?
I am not quite sure yet about my future career path. I continue to be interested in public law but I am keeping an open mind about other fields in private law. Working at the McCabe Centre, I was exposed to public health law and realised it was an incredibly broad field with a lot of opportunities, especially in the coming years. It also touches on many different aspects of law. I aspire to learn more about this field in the future and embrace opportunities along the way.
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.