Fired up to save lives


Canning Times - - FRONT PAGE - Jaime Shurmer

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.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d483645

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

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