Sydney law school building

Law student interns tackling a global public health crisis

19 February 2024
Strengthening vaping regulations in Pacific island countries
Sydney Health Law has hosted three law students, presenting an opportunity to engage with a current health law challenge and contribute to international legislation in the Pacific Community.

Three high-achieving Law students have spent 12 weeks interning at Sydney Health Law, researching and advising on e-cigarette and vaping regulations in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).

Under the supervision of Professor Roger Magnusson from Sydney Health Law, Sophia Bleakley, Helen Zhang and Clare Gim completed a desktop review of current e-cigarette legislation in PICTs, as well as undertaking further analysis of the challenges and legal constraints PICTs face in regulating e-cigarettes.

Pictured Professor Roger Magnusson, the Dean of the Law School Simon Bronitt, Sophia Bleakley, Helen Zhang and Clare Gim.

Findings from the project will be used to inform the Public Health Division of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the legislative draftsperson leading the further development of the Pacific Legislative Framework (PLF), an ambitious project led by SPC to strengthen public health legislation in the Pacific islands.  

The internship project developed in collaboration with the Public Health Division of the Pacific Community (SPC) was the second of its kind, following on from last year’s project that explored options for regulating trans-border alcohol advertising and recommendations for regional and national responses.

We recently spoke with Sophia, Helen and Clare about their experiences from the Sydney Health Law internship. 

Sophia Bleakley

Sophia found the internship an invaluable learning opportunity to explore a specialised area within the Law discipline and collaborate with industry professionals. 

“We were extremely fortunate to work with academics and professionals from the Sydney Law School, broader university, and SPC Public Health Division,” Sophia said. 

“The internship offered us scope for independent research and insights into not only the topic of e-cigarette control, but also on the possibilities offered by the field of public health law.”
Sophia Bleakley
Pictured Sophia Bleakley, Helen Zhang and Clare Gim

Helen Zhang

When applying for the internship, Helen was drawn to the emphasis Sydney Health Law places on legal research in practice and the opportunity to have real impact in protecting and promoting community health. 

Reflecting on the experience, Helen found her favourite aspect of internship to be the balance between autonomy and guidance from Sydney Health Law experts. 

"Being trusted to figure out the scope of the research and how we wanted to deliver our findings was rewarding, especially when working with a team of such like-minded individuals,” Helen said. 

Clare Gim 

Clare found contributing to work and advising on the global public health crisis facing PICTs, to be an enriching learning experience. 

“I enjoyed the depth in which we were allowed to explore our subject. It's a great chance to learn something outside the assigned curriculum in addition to honing your writing skills,” Clare said. 

Clare encourages all fellow students to apply for the Sydney Health Law internship, particularly those that are passionate about making real impact in health legislation. 

“I'd consider this internship an incubator for young minds and would encourage students to grow in this environment,” she said.

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