Southern Cross University reveals how $10m Blackmores Foundation donation will help transform naturopathy education

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Marcus Blackmore said the donation is meant to "establish an internationally recognised centre of excellence in naturopathic medicine education". ©Getty Images
Marcus Blackmore said the donation is meant to "establish an internationally recognised centre of excellence in naturopathic medicine education". ©Getty Images

Related tags: Donation, naturopathy, Australia

Southern Cross University (SCU) has provided NutraIngredients-Asia with more details on how the $10m donation made by Blackmores boss Marcus Blackmore and his wife Caroline will be used to fund a new centre, courses and research.

This funding represents the largest single donation SCU has received, as well as the largest personal gift the Blackmore Foundation has given to a university.

With this donation, Blackmore also wishes to honour his late father Maurice Blackmore, who wished that naturopathy would be recognised and respected as a legitimate profession.

Reinforcing leadership

Founded 25 years ago, SCU is considered a leader in complementary medicine tertiary education, and has a longstanding relationship with Marcus Blackmore, who received an honorary doctorate at the university 12 years ago and is a member of its board.

SCU's vice chancellor, professor Adam Shoemaker, said the donation would go towards establishing a National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine on university grounds, to provide higher education and conduct research in naturopathic medicine.

Works have already begun on the centre, which is scheduled for a 2019 opening.

Shoemaker said: "We are proud to be the first Australian university to offer higher education qualifications in naturopathy. This will enable Southern Cross to provide distinctive career pathways and ongoing development for the profession, as well as increased research capability."

Curriculum and careers

Regarding the disciplines and courses in naturopathic medicine that will form the higher education aspect of the National Centre, Blackmore told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "Curriculum development has begun and the university hopes to announce the first courses in the second half of 2019.

"The aim is to establish an internationally recognised centre of excellence in naturopathic medicine education and associated research. It will provide distinctive career pathways and ongoing development for the profession, as well as increased research capability through study."

He added that besides benefiting new students, the curriculum would be designed to also enable a higher degree pathway for existing graduates of both SCU and private colleges, who had previously undertaken a Bachelor of Health Sciences.

A Masters in naturopathic medicine and a Professional Doctorate in naturopathic medicine are currently on the drawing board for students.

Prospective students can register their interest and receive updates at SCU's website.

Projects and partnerships

Blackmore also revealed his "long association" ​with Joe Pizzorno Jr., an internationally renowned authority on natural and integrative medicine, as well as Bastyr University in the US, saying,  "I am hopeful that there will be opportunities down the track for research and educational collaboration to take place with Bastyr and other educational colleges and universities that share the same passion for naturopathic medicine."

To illustrate his point, he spoke about a multi-author, multinational project that was underway to produce a 'world-class' naturopathic textbook, entitled The Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine​.

The project began in 2006 as a collaborative effort by the international naturopathic medical community, combining multiple areas of expertise in a multi-volume textbook for which SCU’s National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine will be the Australian academic partner.

Volume One is due to be published in early 2019.

Blackmore said the textbook "aims to provide a true integrative naturopathic medical guide based on applied naturopathic concepts"​.

"It will also disseminate the philosophy, principles, theories, clinical practice and scientific advances of naturopathic medicine to a broader healthcare and patient community, and support innovation in scientific research and public policy."

Progress in practice

Blackmore also said that while undergraduate degrees were previously offered by SCU, the donation will "ensure the sustainability of higher education in this field, specifically in the post-graduate area"​ through the National Centre of Naturopathic Medicine.

He added that this was a welcome step forward for the naturopathic profession around the world, which has "fought a long and arduous fight over many decades for proper recognition of the significant role naturopaths can play in community health outcomes".

"Remember, naturopaths were once banned from practising in the US, but today, I believe we are witnessing a patient- and consumer-led trend towards the very ideals of our forebears. The natural food industry and natural therapies are becoming mainstream and SCU is leading the way.

"SCU has become one of Australia's most dynamic young universities, with the development of specialised courses and research that engage with industry and community, and its Lismore campus the hub for plant science and naturopathic medicine."

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