Our Greatest Degree on Earth Winner heads to the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association (NHAA) conference

Naturopaths and Herbalists Association (NHAA) conference

Kate Camilleri is our Greatest Degree on Earth winner from the health vertical and is also currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy). She recently attended the Naturopaths & Herbalists Association (NHAA) of Australia’s 2017 conference in Brisbane. Kate shares her experience of the event… Rocking up to a large reputable conference can be overwhelming for a first-year student. At the NHAA conference, there are established, skilled, talented and inspiring naturopaths and herbalists EVERYWHERE! So it was only natural for me to feel a little bit intimidated. But that didn’t stop me from soaking up the atmosphere, information and free turmeric samples over the weekend. Here are five experiences of NHAA that left me feeling inspired, and excited about my future in natural therapies…

A future of possibilities

I was told that I would become aware of more opportunities than I ever thought possible, but the experience still floored me. The first keynote speaker, Tabitha Parker, blew minds. Tabitha began her presentation with a history of organisations that she had been involved with (some she had co-founded), including a community-organised clinic on the beautiful remote island in Nicaragua which she had set up as part of Natural Doctors International. Based on naturopathic principles, the clinic was designed to help locals with natural medicine and local medicine from the island. Her respect and ethics were clearly reflected in the clinic and it has become an integral part of the community. I will definitely be volunteering!
Kate Camilleri and Trent Wrightson at NHAA

Supporting alumni

All weekend I felt a real connection to past students. There was a warmth whenever the commonality of Torrens, Southern School of Natural Therapies and Australasian College of Natural Therapies, was bought to light and suddenly a network presented itself. One such connection was with the glorious Trent Wrightson. Trent was the winner of the 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur Grant and his presentation on ‘proposed updates to clinical guidelines for naturopaths and herbalists working within the integrative care of people living with HIV’ was fantastic. What a presenter! I was already in awe of Trent’s authenticity and warmth whenever he spoke to other guests but I quickly realised that this also translates to addressing a crowd, gags included! He made a weighty topic accessible and once again, inspiration took hold. Knowing that this is what we could be diving into after our studies and having alumni like this to lead the way was, and still is, very motivating.

Products, freebies and samples

Trying all the samples was a real highlight and the sales reps were on hand to answer all my questions. The after-dinner mint treats provided at the networking dinner were a highlight for me! I was able to put together my own fresh herbal tincture, learn about online distilleries and chat to other past students and their experience of working for various companies. It was also interesting seeing how these products were presented and marketed and to hear the benefits of herbs in different combinations from competing manufacturers.

Plants and politics

I found Justin Sinclair’s presentation on ‘Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid system’, particularly fascinating given the controversial nature of the topic. His passion for communicating the ‘green queen’s’ medicinal properties was relied heavily on professional research .He delivered his research on the history of the plant, its molecular structure and the effects on the body together with just the right amount of humour.

When in doubt return to home ground

It was so comforting having a home base like the Torrens and Southern School of Natural Therapies stand, where I could have a chat with Caitlyn (Course and Career Advisor) or Cath Smith (Naturopathy Program Director) and share all the exciting things I’d seen and learnt, and what the next lot of presentations would entail. My home is in Melbourne but it was also great to meet lecturers from the campuses in Brisbane and hear about the college from different angles. This is also where I met Judy Jacka who was the former principal of Southern School of Natural Therapies and is now Vice Chairman of the Jacka Foundation and Natural Therapies, it was quite the hub!