Overview of the development of the Anthroposophical medical movement in Australia

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, a large continent of light, dryness, and spirituality, a small population and along way from Europe, the development of the Anthroposophical medical movement reflects the uniqueness of this country. Many threads formed by the continuous effort of numerous people from different countries have given a rich and unique colour to the tapestry of the Australian Anthroposophical medical movement.

European occupation and influence has a short history here but it is moving quickly to establish its unique Australian identity. The history of the Anthroposophical medical movement really began post World War 2 with the arrival of Dr Joachim Pohl and Kyra Pohl.

Dr Joachim Pohl gained his Australian Medical registration and worked as a medical practitioner and supported Kyras’ initiative to start a day school for intellectually disadvantaged children by training the co-workers and others attracted to his work. Thus both anthroposophical medical and the curative work were born in Australia.

As part of his medical work Joachim spent hours in the Australian bush acquainting himself with a whole new world of plant and animal forms, convinced that the forces in the Southern Hemisphere would create quite new remedies more suited to this country. He brought together a unique dimension of sensitivity and research that enabled him to make new remedies to replace many of the European ones and also provided treatment that he felt was more suited to the very different nature of his new homeland. The inspiration of this work was carried on in the biodynamic agriculture of Robert Williams

In 1958 INALA, the first Curative Education Residential School, was opened.

After the death of Kyra Pohl, Lesley Evans, a class teacher at Inala took over the task of Principal of Inala at the request of Kyra, shortly before she died. Lesley Evans remained in that role ‘till she retired in 1984.

Other curative homes were established attracting government funding and recognition:

In 1966 Susan Harris left Inala to found Miroma, a Day School for severely disabled children in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

In 1969 Karl and Hannelore Kaltenbach co-founded Warrah, a residential Curative Home in a semi-rural setting at Dural.

The Curative Education Association in Australia was founded by Lesley Evans, Karl and Hannelore Kaltenbach and Susan Harris.

With the founding of Curative education in Australia came training programmes, conferences and a nurturing of the therapies. Despite having few Anthroposophically trained doctors the therapies continued to develop. A number of doctors came from Europe for lecture tours and to support ongoing study. During the 1980’s Dr Wolfgang Shoene, a Psychiatrist from Europe who had immigrated to Adelaide S.A. played a valuable role in training.

In the late 1970s Erwin Berney took on the agency for importing the WALA medicines and the Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Products and established Helios. He has been the pioneer in this area of the Medical Movement and has been involved in research and development under the name of the Goethean Research Institute. His deep understanding of human nutrition led to practical work with the founding of the Demeter Bakery.

In 1983 ‘Helios’ went into the manufacturing of some of the WALA medicines under license. Erwin has been a pioneer in this area of the Medical Movement. Countless young people have been inspired by his Anthroposophical medical research, lectures and seminars. He went on to develop Educaredo, a Self-awakening Study course in Anthroposophy available by distance education and providing a foundation for other courses.

In 1999 Helios was taken over by Lars and Fay Brander who continue the work of making Wala remedies available in Australia.

Anthroposophic pharmacist John Reed purchased a pharmacy in Sydney in 1991. He now produces an impressive range of medicines, oils and ointments and stocks medicines manufactured by WALA and WELEDA. His work has greatly facilitated the clinical practice of medicine here, allowing medicines to be distributed nationally.

In 1979 Ulrike Faeste, who had worked with Dr Pohl at Inala as an Anthroposophical nurse, and who had trained in Nursing and Rhythmical Massage with Dr Hilma Walter and others in Germany and Switzerland during the 1950s, began teaching the first of several courses in Rhythmical Massage adapted for the southern hemisphere. Most participants of that first course were drawn from individuals who attended the early workshops of the Anthroposophical Activities Group, formed by Erwin and Ann Berney, Susan Haris, Mechtild Harkness, Doug and Marj Waugh, Leslie Evans and others, then active in Sydney. Ulrike continued teaching until 1998.

In Melbourne in 1975 Joan Salter (29.8.12 – 21.5.04), an Australian nurse, established the Gabriel Baby Centre and commenced public training courses in Anthroposophy and the care of ‘the incarnating child’ – the title of her published book. She was the first President of the Melbourne Therapy Centre Board when it began (1986) with the initiative of Maxene Hewitt and Anne Hapke. Both Maxene and Anne experienced cancer themselves, and were able to be treated in the Lukas Clinic in Switzerland. This experience so inspired them that they worked to develop a similar opportunity in Melbourne, and built a connection to Dr Rita Leroi in Switzerland. The initial doctors were Dr Shirley May, sadly herself lost to cancer in the intervening years and Dr Michael Glasby, now practicing on the Mornington Peninsular near the surf. The centre continues to this day with a small team of doctors, holistic medical practitioners, therapists, nurses and supporting staff which regulates the individually designed therapeutic programmes. A Brazilian trained doctor, Paulo Moraes, obtained his registration to practice in Victoria and has been the carrying doctor for this anthroposophic medical centre since 1993.

Since the early 1980’s Dr David Ritchie, Christchurch, New Zealand, has visited Sydney and other parts of Australia to consult with individual clients. David has also been a consultant at Inala and instituted clinics which were invaluable training sessions. He has been guest lecturer at many conferences and has played a major educative role for the medical movement here.

In 1995 The Australian Anthroposophic Medicine Association (AAMA) was formally constituted, through the initiative of Antony Underwood, Paulo Moraes and Sue Scott, and was initially represented by Dr Antony Underwood at the International Federation of Anthroposophical Medical associations. The intention was to represent the interest of Anthroposophical doctors, therapists and those involved in the manufacture of medicines at a national and international level. Full membership includes; doctors, therapists and allied health professionals actively involved in Anthroposophical healing methods. The name of the association was changed to Australian Anthroposophical Medicine Association. There were 72 Members in 2008, consisting of 4 Life, 6 Professional, 49 Members, 3 Student, and 10 Mail members.

The particular challenge of distance and isolation for Australia has influenced the AAMA to hold as an objective the organization of conferences and meetings to provide educational opportunities and collegial support.

Dr Michaela Gloeckler visits on a regular basis for conferences, in particular for 1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2008, the IPMT was in it’s fourth year, and reflects the particularly Australian flavour where the attendance of complementary therapists considerably outweighs that of medical doctors. The AAMA has arranged popular national conferences for members plus educators and the general public for the last 6 years.

The Joachim Pohl Medical Therapeutic Trust was established in 1993 in Sydney to further Anthroposophical Medical and Therapeutic work in Australia.

Allied Health and Complementary therapies
Various individuals have trained in and practiced curative eurythmy, art therapy, speech and drama therapy. Where Anthroposophical doctors are in short supply they often work in isolation in institutions, schools and in private practice responding to the needs of the local environment.

In 1991 The Mercury Healing Group Incorporated was formally constituted. They run a training course in what is now called Etheric massage. This has arisen from the work of Ulrike Faeste as mentioned above.

The School of Rhythmical Massage was established in Australia by Elke Liedvogel, who asked Sue Scott to continue the school when Elke left to live in Austria in 1993. Sue is on the Board of the AAMA and has been an inaugural and ongoing force in the formation of this Association since its incorporation.

Barbara Baldwin, carries the pioneering work of Chirophonetics in Australia which was introduced by Dr. Alfred Bauer during his two visits in the 1980’s.

Psychotherapy, Counselling
Psychotherapy and counselling out of Anthroposophy is a developing field with one course recognised by the Australian Association of Counselling (ACA): Metavision Institute in New South Wales by Christina Nielsen.

A training course is being developed by Joanna Jaaniste in Sydney.

Social initiatives
In the late l970’s KNIGHT’S HILL was founded by Christo and Patricia Bret as a rehabilitation farm for young people suffering abuse or seeking freedom from drug addiction. Eventually Knight’s Hill was sold to the Wesley Mission and a trust established to support further similar initiatives. One such initiative was Regenesis, which is currently changing its form.

Extra lesson and educational therapy.
Since the early 1980’s Extra Lesson has been one of the continuous and growing streams of work which has had the medical support from Dr. David Ritchie. Lalage Craig and her colleagues have run an accredited training course throughout Australia and in N.Z.

Through the devotion of all those mentioned and not mentioned in this account, a continuous development of the Anthroposophical Medical Movement has taken place. Now the visible manifestations of the work, together with the invisible substance created, provides the foundation for the further development of the Anthroposophical Medical / Therapeutic impulse in Australia.