Aqua Hastings

Committix Director – Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research

“It is easy to see what is illuminated before us and think that it represents ‘truth’, but to stand with feet on the ground and see into the darkness, requires a suspension of what one thinks is true, and a willingness to not know.

Respectful research is a potent tool for uncovering new truths. Health research is very much needed now because the nature of health and disease has changed. Infectious disease and injury are no longer the biggest causes of death; preventable lifestyle diseases are. Our world is in urgent need of health research that explores people’s socio-cultural realities and is therefore contextually relevant.

Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine is still being marginalised and undervalued as a health resource, yet it provides essential health care, particularly as prevention and response to lifestyle diseases. My work as a person-centred naturopath and counsellor is about listening to needs and connecting people to accessible and available health and wellbeing solutions. Improving health outcomes where they are most needed requires researchers and health providers to listen, especially to those who are socially soundless. Health research and health solutions must venture into realms that are different to existing research and medical paradigms if new solutions are to be created.


  • Philosophy Doctorate (Sociology/Anthropology) (UON) (awaiting award)
  • Bachelor of Social Science (Hons I) (Sociology/Anthropology) (UON) 2014
  • Bachelor of Social Science (Gender) (UON) 2013
  • Diploma of Social Science (Counselling) (SCU) 2009
  • Diploma of Naturopathy (QINS) 1992
  • Diploma of Herbal Medicine (Dorothy Hall) 1997
  • Diploma of Remedial Massage (QINS) 1989 upgraded 2019
  • Advanced First Aid (current)
  • Bachelor of Creative Arts (writing, painting, philosophy) (UOW) 1984-1986, incomplete

Relevant work experience

  • Alice Springs: Remote Health Naturopath 2015-2019
  • Alice Springs: Remote Health Researcher 2014-2019
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society Research Committee 2017-2019
  • Australian Network of Student Anthropologists Executive Committee 2018/19
  • WEA Hunter: Teacher of Complementary Health 2015-2018
  • WEA Hunter: Teacher of Research Skills and Methodology 2015–2018
  • University of Newcastle: Tutor in Cultural Competency in Nursing 2016
  • University of Newcastle: Assistant at Planning, Quality & Reporting 2014
  • Wollotuka Institute of Indigenous Education UON: Tutor 2011-2016


  • University of Newcastle Faculty Medal 2014
  • APA Postgraduate Scholarship
  • ATMS Dorothy Hall Award for Practitioner Excellence 2014
  • Vice Chancellor’s Meritorious List for outstanding academic achievement 2013, University of Newcastle


  • Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in the Remote Setting, Australian Cultural Safety and Security News ISSN 2652-0524 Volume 1, Number 2, 27th May 2019, pp. 22-26.
  • Outback Healing: Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine across Shifting Socio-Cultural Landscapes, Chapter 2, in ‘Complementary Medicine and Culture: The Changing Cultural Territory of Local and Global Healing Practices’, 2017, Editors: Tass Holmes, Ph.D. and Paul Cherniack, MD, New York: Nova Science Publishers
  • Defining health: How users and practitioners of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine experience health care in a remote area of Australia, published online in the Refereed Proceedings of TASA Conference 2016, The Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association, Melbourne, Editor: Mark Chou, ISBN: 978-0-646-96480-5 © TASA 2016


  • 2019 International Congress of Complementary Medicine Research. Brisbane Conference Centre, Brisbane, Australia. ‘Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine use in the remote setting
  • 2018 Australian Anthropological Society Conference. James Cook University, Cairns, Australia. “Because so many people feel abandoned or they become somebody who is socially soundless”: How healers in a remote Australian town are addressing social death.
  • 2017 The Australian Sociological Association Health Day. University of NSW, Sydney, Australia. ‘Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in a remote Australian town: Exploring the intersection between culture, health care, and inequalities‘.
  • 2016 The Australian Sociological Association Conference. Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia. ‘Defining health: How users and practitioners of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine experience health care in a remote area of Australia‘.
  • 2016 Constellations: NuMac Universities Conference. University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia. ‘Exploring meanings of health in a remote area of Australia: What makes Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine culturally accessible health care?
  • 2014 International Conference of Naturopathic Medicine. Marriot Conference Centre, Paris, France. ‘Epistemic Notions of Health in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ (poster)
  • 2014 World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland. ‘Epistemic Notions of Health in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine’, personal presentation and discussion with standing head of the department of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

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