The Australian complementary medicines industry's most prestigious Award, the Lady Cilento Award, honours an individual's lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to our sector and community. This important accolade was awarded to the incredibly deserving Dr Lesley Braun; Researcher, Academic and Author. Lesley has tirelessly committed herself to educating health professionals about the myriad benefits of nutritional supplements and herbs. She is also passionate about equipping consumers with the accurate, practical and applied knowledge they need to make insightful choices about their health.
Dr Lesley Braun accepts the CMA Lady Cilento award
Asked whether she might have had a slight inkling about being awarded this top accolade, Lesley says: "Absolutely not. I've been working in the industry in various ways for over three decades. Still, you get on with it, there's always more to be done, so I've never really reflected on the body of work done so far. Being awarded this prize was a surprise and forced me to reflect – which was nice too!"
Lesley's health challenges as a teenager inspired her interest in natural medicine. "I had severe asthma, and then my father studied to become a naturopath whilst having a successful pharmacy business. The stories he told after seeing patients in the clinic were inspirational," Lesley remembers.
A three-year gestation
It might be difficult to name just two major career highlights with such a long, varied career. "I think that the first career highlight for me was when the first book on Herbs and Natural Supplements launched. Publishing this book felt like birthing another baby, and it was a very proud and happy moment." Yet it took this particular baby nearly three years to incubate!
Lesley started writing the book when her children were small, often finding herself balancing notes in one hand and baby on the other.
Another major highlight for Lesley was participation in multiple government committees which she is happy to say provided a vital opportunity to shape the future and opportunities for our industry.
Working with government
"The last government committee that I was involved with was being a part of the BKL group. it was great to work with an amazing team and share the importance of the VDS industry in helping people improve their health across Australasia."
Detractors – you’re out of touch!
Of course, there are detractors despite the incredible advances made via evidence-based research and strict regulations ensuring the highest quality complementary medicines in the world. What would Lesley say to these small but energetic critics?
"I'd say you're out of touch," laughs Lesley. "New clinical evidence is being published in peer-reviewed literature regularly. We also publish some of the news in our Blackmores Institute newsletter because there is a lack of awareness. Also, I'd recommend that this group takes a reality check. After all, 90% of Aussies don't meet the minimum fruit and vegetable intake standards. Our industry is committed to improving this. But it is obvious that supplements also play an important role."
Encouraging and celebrating women
"I am truly honoured to have received this award. It means a lot coming from peers in the industry and CMA. Whilst this accolade reflects a lifetime achievement; there's certainly more I'd like to achieve. I'm conscious that I am one of the few women awarded the Lady Cilento accolade. I hope this prompts us all to recognise more women that are doing fabulous things in the industry," ends Lesley.
Big congratulations, Lesley – we can't wait for your upcoming and undoubtedly extraordinary achievements!