NHAA Awards for Excellence Winners

The NHAA Awards of Excellence were announced at our Symposium Gala Dinner on Saturday evening – and it was a wonderful celebration of some of the brightest lights of our profession. It was also gathered together again in this way, as it has been four years since our last Awards dinner… and we are overdue for some accolades and appreciation!

We received an unprecedented number of nominations this year, and there were so many wonderful nominees, which meant that both the finalists and winners for each category were in very good company.

We would like to congratulate the following Award winners, NHAA Fellows and Life Members announced on the night.

Notable Contribution to Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine – Associate Professor Amie Steel

Amie is a well-known and respected naturopathic and public health academic, both in Australia and internationally. She has worked tirelessly over the past 10+ years to champion our profession, contributing significantly to the body of evidence supporting our work as naturopaths and herbalists: through her own research projects, the work of the students she supervises and groups she collaborates with. She was also instrumental in the development of the HTA, a 720-page book providing an evidence-based summary of naturopathic practice and safety, economics and effectiveness of naturopathic care.

For these reasons and many more, Associate Professor Amie Steel was awarded for her notable contribution to naturopathy and herbal medicine.

Cath Smith accepting Notable Contribution to Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine Education for Anne Digby

Notable Contributions to Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine Education – Anne Digby

Anne received many glowing nominations from colleagues, current and former students. She is recognised as a dedicated and caring educator who goes above and beyond for her students, bringing her knowledge and years of experience into the classroom and clinical setting. She also initiated and coordinated a program that, at the end of last year, took 26 Australian health science students to Nepal, for an immersive and integrative learning experience. As a result, Anne Digby was awarded for her notable contribution to naturopathy and herbal medicine education.

Early Career Research in Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine – Sophia Gerontakos

Sophia is a naturopath, researcher and PhD candidate, who is doing very important work in the realm of group naturopathic practice – a model of care that has proven successful in general medicine but has not, until now, been well utilised or studied in naturopathic and herbal medicine; but is incredibly valuable as it allows naturopathic services to be more broadly accessible.

Student of the Year Award – Amy Sartorel

Amy has only recently graduated from her naturopathic degree and received a significant number of nominations  – from former lecturers, who noted her dedication and academic excellence; and from fellow students/colleagues who commended her positive influence. She is also one of two students who took over the reins of SydHerbs last year and reinvigorated the chapter, as soon as Covid restrictions eased – no mean feat, particularly in her final year of study.

Australian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine Article of the Year Award –  Laura Dwyer & Ian Breakspear

For their article ‘Systemic review of harm from case reports and clinical trials of the oral use of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Turnea diffusa and Achillea millefolium.’

Sophia Gerontakos accepting Community Award on behalf of Erin and Sarah

Community Award  – Erin Lovell Verinder and Sarah Mann from Community Herbal Care

This is a new award that the NHAA Board and Events Committee decided to create, after some discussion, based on the volume and passion of nominations we received for the winners.

For future NHAA awards, we are going to continue including a community award category, because we can see its immense value to those members of our profession doing this important work.

The winners of this award stepped up during a time of great need in their community and secured dispensary donations from herbal and naturopathic medicine suppliers, as well as a roster of volunteer clinicians and coordinators to provide a roaming naturopathic and herbal medicine clinic, that provided free health support across the flood-ravaged Northern Rivers, for 10 months – they hit the ground running only a week after the first devastating flood, initially working out of evacuation centres and community spaces that were available.

As such, the inaugural NHAA Community Award went to Erin and Sarah from Community Herbal Care.

Appreciation Award – David Casteleijn

Having only recently stepped down from his role as president of the association, after five years on the NHAA board, we wanted to publicly acknowledge the tireless work David has put in to support the profession over this time, as well as his dedication and sacrifice in everything he has done for the association.

We also welcomed new NHAA Fellows and Life Members at our Awards dinner and would like to congratulate those honoured with this title.

Left to right – Kathleen Murphy, Jackie Arbuckle, Keonie Moore, Rachel Arthur, and Dr. Susan Arentz


A Fellow of the NHAA is awarded by the Board to a Full Member of the association who has been a member for at least 10 years and has distinguished themself within naturopathy and/or herbal medicine over that time. The following Fellows were recognised for their contributions and achievements:

  • Jackie Arbuckle
  • Kathleen Murphy
  • Keonie Moore
  • Rachel Arthur
  • Dr Susan Arentz
Prof. Kerry Bone and Ian Breakspear
Dr Sue Evans accepting Life Membership for Linda Bates

Life Members

Life Membership of the NHAA is awarded by the Board to an NHAA Fellow who has amassed considerable experience and made outstanding contributions to naturopathy and/or herbal medicine. The following Life Members were honoured with this title:

  • Professor Kerry Bone
  • Ian Breakspear
  • Linda Bates

Thank you to everyone who attended for what was a wonderful celebration and very fun night! Congratulations also to all our Awards finalists and winners – we celebrate and appreciate you! More photos of the dinner and the conference itself will be shared in the coming week, including a highlight reel of some of the best moments from the weekend.

The NHAA Board

Left to right – Rose, Hannah, Carolyn Ledowsky, Sarah, Natalie, Kathleen Murphy and Tracelee (Missing – Sonya)