Fired up to save lives
WEST AUSTRALIAN OF YEAR
CURTIN University professor Mike Daube described being named Western Australian of the Year on Friday night as the best birthday gift, with the unexpected honour bestowed just three weeks before he turns 70.
The title also left him overwhelmed.
Prof Daube is best known for his work against the tobacco industry.
He was influential in the push for plain packaging on cigarette packets.
He hopes the many “amazing people” he works with share in the honour.
“It’s never just one person,” he said.
He encouraged others involved in health campaigning to keep going and acknowledged the adversity powerful commercial companies could present along the way.
Over the years Prof Daube said he had been attacked publically and abused via social media, followed and spied on and unsuccessfully sued.
He worked on the British anti-tobacco campaign in 1973 and bought a share in major players.
As a shareholder, he had the authority to attend annual general meetings of the tobacco giants.
At one meeting, he was offered money by a chairman to work on any campaign except tobacco.
He quoted the late Aboriginal leader Rob Riley in his speech when accepting the prestigious WA award on Friday night, which disclosed his life’s ethos: “You can’t be wrong if you’re right. Just keep fighting”.
Prof Daube started out as a graduate management trainee in the UK, then worked on a poverty campaign before responding to a job advertisement with the anti-tobacco campaign.
Visits to Australia formed part of his work.
He said tobacco was responsible for the death of two in three Australians.
In 1984, he relocated to Australia from Scotland’s Edinburgh.
Described as the “Mild Messiah” in the first article about him published in Australia, Prof Daube proved to be a formidable force in developing health policy and changing public perception.
His adopted dog Ollie, aka Dr Olivia Doll, was last year used as a ploy to show up dodgy medical journals, which failed to check the qualifications of those applying to be on their boards.
The staffy suggested junior academics should ‘paws’ for thought before sending their research to the publications.
Prof Daube’s use of effective campaigning has been demonstrated in the many roles he has held in WA.
Prominent positions have included Director General of Health, which he said left him with many grey hairs. He then worked at Curtin University for the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre since 2005.
More recently, he returned to work with the World Health Organisation.
“I enjoy doing things that will make an impact,” he said.
Prof. Daube has been recognised internationally for his commitment to improving the lives of others, including winning the WHO Tobacco Medal twice, the Hugh Leavell Award for Outstanding Global Health Leadership, and the American Cancer Society’s Luther Terry Distinguished Career Award.
Once 70, the veteran of public health policy plans to throw a party to acknowledge his retirement from his official roles, then continue as Emeritus Professor at Curtin University.
Mike Daube will continue as an Emeritus Professor at Curtin University after he retires from formal roles at the end of June.
Professor Mike Daube