Vale Judy Jacka, 1 August 1938 – 1 March 2022

10 March 2022

It is with great sadness and respect, that we share the news of the passing of Dr Judith Mary Jacka, Founder of the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies, a distinguished individual, philanthropist and inspirational pioneer in natural therapies and complementary medicine.

Judy passed away in the early hours of 1 March 2022 after an illness of some months followed by a recent fall. She was 83.

Western Sydney University and NICM Health Research Institute (NICM HRI) send profound and heartfelt condolences to Judy’s family and her many friends and collaborators. A cherished friend for so many in the fields of natural therapies and complementary medicine, she will be sorely missed.

Judy was a trained nurse and naturopath with nearly 50 years of experience in clinical practice. She was principal of the Southern School of Natural Therapies 1974–1985 and published seven books on health and healing, including best seller A-Z of Natural Therapies, in addition to over 100 papers published on natural therapies.

Judy had an incredible passion and commitment to natural health. She was known for her remarkable vision, positive outlook and approach to building a robust and regulated future for natural therapies and complementary medicine.

During Judy’s career, the public image and political climate for natural therapies has undergone significant changes – the most obvious being a dramatic rise in public awareness. However, political support for natural therapies has wavered during this time and Judy was resolute that providing ongoing support for evidence-based research would be crucial to the survival of complementary medicine.

In a 2015 interview with NICM HRI,(opens in a new window) Judy voiced the importance of research and philanthropy.

“We are often burdened by the claim that we have no proof that our remedies work, so that’s why we’re so interested in demonstrating evidence-based medicine,” said Judy.

“The more that organisations like the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies are able to support research into complementary medicine, the better known and accepted it will become. Scientific research is crucial to building the evidence and demonstrating to the government and the public that complementary medicine is here to stay – and that it’s a good industry in which to invest.”

Through this ethos and her lifetime devotion, Judy contributed to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society and achieved eminence in the field at local, state, national and international level. Fittingly, Judy was made an Honorary Fellow of the University in 2016, in recognition of her distinguished service in the fields of natural therapies and complementary medicine.

Her enduring impact and legacy live on through the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies, a not-for-profit charitable fund that supports research and professional development in natural medicine, founded by Judy.

“Judy leaves a legacy of achievements and enduring impact through her advocacy work and since its establishment in 2010, her philanthropic work through the Jacka Foundation,” said Professor Dennis Chang, Director, NICM HRI, Western Sydney University.

“She shared our vision bridging research, clinical care, education and policy to assist in the evolution of healthcare with the use of evidence-based integrative medicine.

“Importantly, Judy and the Jacka Foundation helped support NICM HRI’s future in two special ways.

“Firstly, through providing a generous endowment that has gradually built to ensure long-term sustainability of NICM Health Research Institute, and which in turn funds key academic appointments, including the Jacka Foundation Senior Research Fellow, Dr Carolyn Ee, and our integrative medicine initiatives and academic integrative services, such as the establishment of the first university-based academic integrative healthcare centre in Australia, Next Practice care of Western Sydney Integrative Health.

“Secondly, by contributing to the establishment of The Jacka Foundation Conference Centre, NICM HRI’s hub for information and education exchange in best practice and research in integrative medicine.

“Such support will have clear inter-generational benefits, and for that we’re truly grateful,” said Professor Chang.

In March 2020, The Jacka Foundation Conference Centre was officially opened with a ribbon cutting and 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.

Judy presented the opening keynote, “Major changes experienced during five decades in natural therapies”. She spoke of the past and future, sharing her candid insights and enthusiasm and vision for the future of healthcare choices and its new generation of leaders.

We celebrate and remember Judy for her lifetime achievements and legacy, a testament to her generosity and kindness and above all, her passion, thank you Judy.

Watch(opens in a new window) the service celebrating the life of Judy.