Curtin’s Mike Daube overwhelmed after being named Western Australian of the Year

Mike Daube.
Mike Daube.

CURTIN professor Mike Daube described being named the 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.

But the title has also left him overwhelmed, and he hopes the many amazing people he works with share in the honour.

“It’s never just one person,” he said today.

In fact, he encouraged others conducting health campaigns to keep going.

Prof. Daube is best known for his work against tobacco.

“It’s worth staying with it,” he said, acknowledging the adversity powerful commercial companies could present.

Over the years, Prof. Daube has been publicly attacked and abused via social media, followed and spied on, and unsuccessfully sued.

In 1973, he was running the British tobacco campaign and had a bought a share from each major company so he could attend their AGMs – at one 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 advertised on the tobacco campaign.

Visits to Australia were part of his work, where he said there is no place for tobacco because it kills two in three Australian users.

Described as the “Mild Messiah” in the first article published here, Prof. Daube has proved to be a formidable force in developing health policy and changing public perception.

And he’s prepared to be innovate to get a message across.

In fact, his adopted dog Ollie, aka Dr Olivia Doll, was last year used as a ploy to show up dodgy medical journals who failed to check the qualifications of those applying to be on their boards.

The Subiaco staffy showed junior academics should have ‘paws’ for thought before sending their research to such publications.

Prof. Daube knows what methods to use when to achieve his end goal, and has displayed this time again through his many roles held in WA since relocating from Scotland’s Edinburgh in 1984.

These positions have included Director General of Health – which he admits left him with many grey hairs – and then working from Curtin University on the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre since 2005.

He has more recently returned to working with the World Health Organisation.

“I enjoy doing things that will make an impact,” said the man who was influential in the push for plain packaging on cigarette packets.

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.

2018 Western Australian of the Year Award winners

Aboriginal Award – Gail Allison JP

Arts and Culture Award – Janet Holmes à Court AC

Business Award – Diane Smith-Gander

Community Award – Professor Mike Daube AO

Professions Award – Professor James Trevelyan

Sport Award – Ron Alexander

Youth Award – Greg Hire

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