community acupuncture perth

So I’m five days away from delivering the first Community Acupuncture Perth event, and I’m slightly wondering how on earth I suddenly got to this point!

I’ll be delivering free ear acupuncture to fireys, residents, and the community at the upcoming Yanchep Fire Thank You Day. I’m soooo excited, I can’t wait…

My inspirations

This idea didn’t come out of the blue, and I can’t take credit for thinking it up. For years, in acupuncture journals, I’ve read articles and admired the work of organisations like Acupuncturists without Borders. They do AMAZING trips to disaster zones, to provide free ear acupuncture to aid workers and residents, to help everyone process their trauma.

I’ve also been aware of organisations like AcuDetox, who also work with trauma survivors, plus supporting all kinds of low cost clinics where ear acupuncture is offered to people with substance abuse problems.

But none of that really connected with the idea that me, myself, I, could do that kind of thing, until…

I want to DO something to help!

Watching all the apocalyptic coverage of the fires on Australia’s east coast in December 2019 and January 2020 was just awful. So distressing.

We’ve not had anything nearly as bad over here in Western Australia so far this fire season, but like the rest of the world it’s distressing here to even watch that stuff on TV.

A spontaneous act

I’m a real doer. I get a lot done. I love to be in motion.

When the Yanchep Fire Thank You Day popped up in my Facebook feed, my fingers nearly of their own accord decided to reach out and see if I could offer to help:

All the help I’ve received

I can’t tell you how much help I’ve already received! It’s come from all over – from down south, from the east coast, from the UK, and even from Hawaii.

It was a bit mind-bendy to organise a phone call from Perth to Hawaii, but yesterday I spoke with the wonderful Megan Yarberry, a US guru of NADA ear acupuncture, and she gave me a hundred and one super useful tips, as well as a ton of warmth and encouragement. Sara Bursac from AcuDetox pinged straight back to my message full of help and support and useful resources. (Sara is also in the US, and one thing that’s been really clear to me throughout these fires is how distressed the whole world is, and how keen everyone is to be able to do anything they can to help.)

Rachel Peckham from the NADAGB team, the UK ear acupuncture group, got right back to me, sharing tips and resources and support.

Meanwhile Sara put me in touch with Kaime Hood in Byron Bay and Kata Japuncic in Sydney, who are working on getting ear acupuncture more widely available in Australia, they’ve set up AcuDetoxAustralia. Again they were super helpful.

Receiving so much heartfelt and enthusiastic help and support has been very touching.

Is a one-off enough?

When I volunteered my time and energy for this community event, I didn’t really think beyond that. My mind’s eye only saw a one-off event.

Sara and Megan though, from their experience, flagged up to me that people are likely to ask where they can get more of the same.

So, the bigger idea of Perth Community Acupuncure started to be born.

I was already thinking about community acupuncture

Let me take you back a step. The setting for all this is the new year, it’s the end of January now while I’m writing.

Over Christmas I’d taken myself on a camping trip, and I was holed up in Bromus Dam near Norseman, in one of my favourite forests in Western Australia – the absolutely gorgeous Great Western Woodlands. I ended up leaving town the day before all the roads out were closed for like a week because of a big bushfire.

But anyway that break, and all those long roads and exquisite landscape was a really reflective and meditative experience. I came back relaxed, inspired, and thinking very laterally.

I realised that something else I’ve admired from afar for years is community multibed acupuncture. This is where acupuncture is offerred really affordably, by treating several people in one room at the same time.

It helps people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford acupuncture to get treatment. More people having the chance to receive the benefits of acupuncture, to me just seems win win win win win.

Again, I knew about it, I loved the idea, but I didn’t connect up the idea that I personally could do that.

A little bit of time on my hands

And backing up even a bit further, to the wider terrain, I moved from the UK to Perth two years ago. Then it took AHPRA, the Australian health regulator, two years to approve my registration here. So although I’ve been here for a while, I’m just starting my practice here. I’m working with patients one to one, very holistically, in the way that I always did in the UK.

So now, all the ideas I’m talking about here, these are almost the opposite way of practising.

But, I thought, I’ve got a bit of spare time, over the next year or two while I build up my practice, maybe I could do some volunteering in a community acupuncture clinic here? Better to be treating than not treating.

Like I said, I’m a doer. I like to be in motion.

Revelations about multibed acupuncture

I couldn’t find any community acupuncture clinics in Perth, but I did find the fabulous Bec Rickey of Community Acupuncture in south west WA. Bec couldn’t have been more supportive – she let me pick her brains, observe her clinic, and come and have a treatment in her multibed clinic.

And I saw how much she loves what she does, how her patients love it too. And how interesting, and somehow nurturing, it was, to receive a treatment in a communal setting.

I described all this to a friend, who’d also received multibed acupuncture in the past, and she said yes, there’s an amazing healing energy in the room that comes from everyone sharing the experience. Compared to getting the undivided attention of the acupuncturist, “you kind of miss out on the me me me, but you get something else very special instead.”

A plan is brewing

So, now, for the community event in Yanchep, I’ve got a ton of permissions, I’ve ordered supplies, I’ve got myself organised, I’ve created a website, and a Facebook page, and all that jazz.

And I’m looking at how I can deliver more ear acupuncture, and a multibed community clinic, and bring all these ideas together:

  • very low cost drop-in standardised ear acupuncture sessions in chairs, for relaxation, stress relief, cravings, addictions, and trauma
  • affordable multibed community acupuncture treatments, tailored invidiually, for a range of health conditions

Onwards and upwards

OK so that’s my brain dump for today! It feels lighter to have splurged that all out onto the page.

Watch this space to find out what happens next…

Author: Jessica Kennedy

Jessica Kennedy is an acupuncturist in Perth. She's the founder of Community Acupuncture Perth and she runs her own private acupuncture practice. She loves supporting people's wellbeing through the joy of traditional Chinese medicine.