A celebration of women in natural therapies

12 March 2020

NICM Health Research Institute (NICM HRI) celebrated and marked International Women’s Day and the official opening of the new Jacka Foundation Conference Centre with the inaugural one-day symposium, Influential Women in Natural Therapies: A Legacy for the Future and the Women’s Networking Breakfast with Lisa Curry AO MBE.

Approximately 100 attendees – including leading researchers, clinicians, authors, integrative medicine advocates, Western Sydney University alumni and HDR students – converged at NICM HRI in Westmead on March 11 for the celebration and events.

“We received great feedback throughout the day from our delegates and guests, with many commenting on our new Jacka Foundation Conference Centre and how spectacular our new building and location at Westmead is for the Institute and our wider stakeholders,” said NICM HRI Director, Professor Alan Bensoussan.

“The Conference Centre is a fabulous addition to our Institute’s capabilities and services at Westmead, and helps to achieve our mission and shared vision, expanding our reach to national and international audiences in becoming a hub for information and education exchange, best practice and research through such symposiums and other educational and networking events.

“We are grateful to the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies for their long-term support and generosity. Through such shared vision, we can continue to create a legacy that will benefit generations to come with research-led, informed health choices and a sustainable integrative medicine industry,” Professor Bensoussan said.

Highlighting a theme throughout the day of celebrating Australia’s influential women in natural therapies, the events held a space for deep reflection on the past to the present to the future ahead.

The Women’s Networking Breakfast event, MC’d by Western Sydney University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Research, Enterprise and International Professor Deborah Sweeney, kicked off the day, where attendees heard from special guest speaker Lisa Curry AO MBE. A well-known Australian sports star and personality, Lisa shared her candid insights and experience about her health journey, and use of integrative medicine and the need for both conventional and integrative medicine in today’s modern world.

The Jacka Foundation Conference Centre official opening and ribbon cutting launched the symposium welcome, and was followed by key speakers discussing their personal journey’s and challenges, to the importance of advocacy for integrative medicine, accompanied by the next generation of women in complementary medicine research, and a wrap up about the future ahead.

Dr Carolyn Ee, Symposium Chair and Jacka Foundation Senior Research Fellow says it was a pleasure for the Institute to host such a symposium and have the privilege of hearing from so many talented and inspirational leaders, such as Dr Judy Jacka, Petrea King, Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM, Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Associate Professor Lesley Braun, Gail O’Brien AO, Associate Professor Judith Lacey, Lucy Haslam and Dr Anne-Louise Carlton.

“These amazing individuals have helped forge the way for integrative medicine in this country through their tenacity, courage and vision despite at times facing enormous challenges along the way, and juggling multiple responsibilities, both on the work and personal front,” she said.

“Everyone who attended the Symposium left with a renewed sense of purpose, courage, persistence, and a reminder to pay attention to self-care. Many speakers commented on the unique opportunity to gather and connect with their colleagues new and old.

“We are grateful to all the speakers for their time and energy in presenting on the day and sharing their wonderful stories, learnings and insights, and to all the attendees for helping to make the day a positively wonderful and uplifting experience.”

The official proceedings concluded with several awards presented including a certificate of appreciation to Terri Albert, Dr Judy Jacka, Dr Pauline McCabe, Sandra Dillon, and the announcement of the inaugural NICM HRI Judy Jacka Visionary Award, which was awarded to Petrea King in recognition of her work and service in mental health across local communities impacted by the devastating bushfires.