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Clinic of the Year Winner Q&A

By Goulds Natural Medicine Clinic

Tell us a little about your natural medicine clinic and the services you offer:

We offer natural medicine health support in a number of forms. Our apothecary provides the opportunity for us to give free over-the-counter advice which enables us to service the community in a unique way and be affordable and accessible to all. This service has been in Hobart since 1881. Our ethos is to do what is best for the person within our scope. So sometimes this is recommending herbal medicines or supplements from our apothecary, but at other times this is recommending home remedies, or it may be us recommending they see a medical practitioner or the hospital. We also offer consultations in a multi-disciplinary clinic where we have Naturopaths alongside other allied health practitioners. We are passionate about cultivating a collegiate collaborative practice which we feel greatly improves the service we offer.

When and why did you start your clinic?

Goulds had been operating long before we got involved. The five of us had a vision of combining the growing and manufacturing of high-quality herbal medicines with direct dispensing these so we could continue to maintain these grassroots skills, have control over where our medicines come from for quality, ethical and supply security reasons and because we value practitioners being linked to the plants they are using. We were delighted to bring this to Goulds and also continue in the tradition of the previous owners of being a natural medicine resource centre in Hobart. Goulds has grown a fair bit over the last 16 years and is what it is today because of the combined contribution of an amazing, diverse and community-minded team working in many areas of Goulds – farm, Apothecary and Clinic.

What motivated you to practice your chosen field of natural medicine? Why are you so passionate about it?

 We are passionate about combining grassroots practice, and the philosophy of naturopathy, with a contemporary evidence-based approach. We have always had strong values about independent education and really critiquing contemporary evidence and using it well. As discussed above, we also highly value traditional evidence and also our own experience we have gained through clinical practice. All of us have probably come to be interested in natural medicine for slightly different reasons but we all share a deep respect for plants, nature and herbal medicine tradition. We had inspiring teachers such as Dr Sue Evans, Dr Hans Wolmuth and Dr Stephen Myers who really helped us to deeply value many of these elements. Additionally having Greg Whitten, the experienced herb farmer, as part of our collective has given us a practical grounding in quality and sourcing issues.

 What is your vision and mission for your clinic?

 To continue our work providing high-quality natural medicine care, to be a place of learning, a safe haven for grassroots practice and critical evidence-based practice and to contribute to the river of natural medicine learning.

How does your type of natural medicine benefit your clients?

We are continually receiving positive feedback from our patrons and clients which to us indicates that the quality of our health advice and the quality of the medicines we make and use are providing substantial health benefits to our clients.

How does your clinic connect and engage with your local community?

Having a shop front in central Hobart with a long-established reputation, the local community knows and trusts us as a place to come/drop in for advice and information. At Goulds, we often have the pleasure of helping the kids, grandkids and even great grandchildren of previous Goulds patrons. Goulds has been integral to the healthcare of multiple generations of Tasmanians, and we feel humbled to continue this tradition.

 What are some of the ways you advocate for the natural therapies industry?

 We are all passionate about contributing to practitioner continuing professional education, so we regularly present at conferences and other events. We have also supported new practitioners to gain experience and confidence through our naturopathic internship program since 2007. Additionally, many of us have diversified and gained additional training in other health areas such as disabilities, lactation, sexual health and we find this provides additional opportunity to bring ideas from these disciplines to the natural medicine field.

 In your opinion, what does the future of natural medicine look like?

 Natural medicine will always persevere. What this looks like in the future is unclear as there are some significant challenges, such as how the Natural Medicine Industry engages with sustainability and social impact issues with regards to sourcing and manufacturing medicines. There are challenges within the education arena as we move towards having minimum education standards and work out what are the essential elements within this. We feel strongly for example, that all herbal medicine practitioners and naturopaths should be schooled in the fundamentals of botanical identification, medicinal sourcing issues, and manufacturing methods so that they have the tools to critique and evaluate the medicines available to them, as well as have the skills to safely source and make medicines. We also feel strongly that critical appraisal skills are a vital component of any course, as well as continuing detailed herbal materia medica study that involves both traditional information and contemporary findings.

 What does it mean for you to have won this award?

We appreciate ATMS creating a space to recognise and celebrate contributions within the natural medicine field – creating a culture of appreciation and acknowledgement. We were surprised to win the award as we felt the other finalists were also deserving of the award. In particular, the Lismore Herbie Hub who have been a steady presence within Lismore providing herbal medicine support to those in need after the horrific floods of early 2022.

More about the author

Goulds Natural Medicine Clinic

Goulds Natural Medicine has a very long history in Hobart. Originally established in the late 1800's, it moved to its current site nearly 100 years ago and has become a Hobart institution.

Goulds Naturopathica changed hands in 2006 to the current owners, a collaboration between four Naturopaths (Dawn Whitten, Dr. Jason Hawrelak, Belinda Robson and Daniel Robson) and medicinal herb farmer, Greg Whitten. Keeping the style, furnishings and overall look of the shop as traditional as possible, they expanded the range of natural medicines further.