Spotlight on naturopathy graduate, Trent Wrightson: Our 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur

trent wrightson

At the end of last year, Southern School of Natural Therapies (SSNT) graduate Trent Wrightson was named the 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur. Trent was awarded $10,000 in grant funding to support his social good project: a community health clinic in collaboration with the local indigenous population…

The Laureate Australia Alumni Grant is a program that awards seed funding to recent graduates wishing to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. This year, the application criteria required the proposals to demonstrate some form of social benefit.

Trent and his team are graduates of the Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy). They outlined in their written and video application that they had recently partnered with Hands on Health Australia and the Minajalku Aboriginal Healing Centre to launch a naturopathic clinic that would service marginalised and disadvantaged communities.

The judging panel felt that the proposal fully embraced the social good component of the Laureate Australia Alumni Grant and that indigenous health was an area that could truly benefit from the support that Trent and his team can offer.

We caught up with Trent to learn more about his team and their hopes for the project…

What does it feel like to be named Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur?

It’s exciting and also really validating. It’s great to see that Laureate really sees the value in the project and sees that naturopaths do have a role to play within the community and making services more accessible to people in the indigenous community.

It gives me the sense that I’m fulfilling a bigger purpose. It’s a pretty big deal to me because, this year, I’ve been looking at ways in which we can expand the naturopathic scope. For example, ensuring that we’re not just private naturopathy practitioners for people who already have access to resources, and instead, consider making our healthcare accessible to a broader population and those who need it most.

What are your next steps for the project?

We’re going to be assessing the health needs of the community; working out where we can fit in and and how naturopaths can best meet those health needs.

We are collaboratively designing the project and ensuring it is led by the community – empowerment and community ownership is important at every stage. Through this, the project will develop in a way which best fits with what the health needs of the community are and where we, as naturopaths, can offer skills and knowledge. The flexibility of the project means that we will be able to change according to community needs. We may have clinical services operating at Minajalku, but may also have additional projects focusing on the social determinants of health such as food access and projects addressing broader health inequality.

As one of four finalists, you were offered some coaching to prepare for your pitch to the judges. How did that go?

It was really good having the coaching because I had no idea how to do the pitch. I learnt how to succinctly communicate a huge idea, one which I’ve been thinking about for many years and which incorporates concepts of health inequality, health promotion, determinants of health and all the philosophies of naturopathy and how to communicate all that in 10 minutes!

How have your studies at SSNT helped prepare you to undertake a project like this?

As part of my degree, I remember a subject on ‘health promotion’, which was led by SSNT lecturer Gareth Vanderhope. Gareth had already worked with indigenous communities and was therefore able to introduce me to the health promotion framework with an aboriginal lens. In fact, we’re using the same framework for our project! Without this introduction, I wouldn’t have had the direction or the resources to really feel that this is a well structured and well thought through project.

The team is made up of classmates and we went through our final clinical placement year together. We know each other so well, including our strengths and we’re supportive and honest with each other. It couldn’t just be one person running this project. We have this collaboration and it’s fantastic to have such solid team.

You can read about the other finalists and their social good projects here.

Follow Torrens University on social media for more updates about Trent and his team’s social good project.