The College of Universal Medicine was founded in 2011, following more than a decade of non-profit and philanthropic work by the founder, Serge Benhayon.
Serge began in 1999 teaching a way of life that would help people arrest the growing trend of stress, depression, exhaustion and general unhappiness with life, which was seen by many in society to be affecting work productivity, the stability of relationships, the state of health of both adults and children, and the general wellbeing of society at large.
Serge began with the teaching of simple concepts such as self care, and the importance of caring for oneself and the impact that has on the quality of work, relationships and other aspects of life, as well as general principles on self responsibility and accountability, based on the fact that what we do affects all those around us. The message was simple, and it resonated deeply with those who heard it.
Now, 15 years later, we have prolific sleeplessness, obesity, and corporate absenteeism on the rise, all known to affect work productivity. Alongside that, we have disease and illness escalating through the roof, and conflict that rages throughout homes and workplaces everywhere, let alone the international and national conflicts that persist worldwide.
Amidst all of that, we have 600-800 people who have reversed that trend - lost excess weight, returned back to the workplace from being drop outs or unproductive and uncommitted, and, who have completely given up alcohol and drugs – each one of them is an extraordinary story. This no less than miraculous transformation has been the subject of a PhD in the UK and is now prominent in national health work being conducted in that country. The principles upon which these transformations occurred are simple – self care, and responsibility.
The intention of the charity was to form a vehicle to make that learning accessible to the public, especially to those who cannot afford it. From humble beginnings, with a small program dedicated to the charity’s objects and the public interest, the charity has continued to grow.
The charity is dedicated to making available and broadcasting these teachings to make them as widely available as possible and also to make them freely available to people who cannot afford to pay.
Teachers, educators and professionals from all over the world have presented on behalf of the charity, and expressions of interest of prospective course offerings are being regularly received by the charity from highly qualified and experienced educators and professionals in their fields. All prospective courses are vetted by a committee of highly qualified experts, who ensure that the courses offered meet the exceptional integrity that the College of Universal Medicine represents, as well as aligning with its objects. All courses are ultimately subject to Board approval.
Supporting the charity’ activities at every step has been the commitment of volunteers and the College’s fundraising activities. In 2011, the College applied for and obtained endorsement as a deductible gift recipient for purposes of acquiring a school building to accommodate the College’s school activities. This meant that donors to the College’s school building fund were entitled to claim a tax deduction for donations to the fund.
In the second half of 2014 the College formally opened its doors, having already offered forums in Self Care in Health Care, Psychological Wellbeing and Cyber Bullying. Consideration of the community's need for courses to support well-being is reflected in the courses offered to the end of 2015 that included The Living Sutras of the Hierarchy; Exercise for Self-Confidence and Self-Worth - Women's Program 2014; Embracing Peri menopause, Menopause and Post-Menopause; Healthy Sleep, Healthy Life; Exercise for Self-Confidence and Self-Worth - Women's Program 2015; Understanding anxiety in Men; Your Body and Its Connective Tissue; Understanding Men with Depression and Exhaustion; and Understanding and Developing Personal Budgetting; all of which were well attended and well received, the Living Sutras of the Hierarchy and the Budgeting courses having over 500 participants each. Courses currently offered in 2016 for on-line study include The Living Sutras of the Hierarchy, Understanding Anxiety in Men, Understanding Men with Depression and Exhaustion and Building a Healthy Relationship with your Finances.
Voluntary Revocation of the DGR
On 2 October 2015 the College requested that the ATO revoke the College’s deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsement as a school building fund, after it became clear that the DGR regime was no longer a good fit for the College. The ATO at our request revoked the endorsement with effect from 2 October 2015.
The College made this decision as the ATO had been moving towards an increasingly restrictive approach to the DGR regime, in particular developing the view that in order for organisations to fit within the regime, their school activities would need to resemble a registered training organisation, with pathways of learning, graded assessments and externally recognised qualifications at completion of a course of study, none of which was ever the intention of the school building regime or the College’s objects which were to always be an adjunct to vocational and further education, never subsumed by it.
Our conversations with the ATO revealed that many less formal schools, such as Sunday schools, have also opted to leave the DGR regime as it no longer suited them.
The College continues to be a registered charitable organisation with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and still holds an authority under the Charitable Collections Act issued by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for purposes of appeals for donations, but has wound up the school building fund in accordance with our constitution. Alongside and with all of this, the College of Universal Medicine continues its charitable work in the field of education, unrestricted by the DGR regime, but operating wholly within the ACNC and legal framework applicable to charitable institutions.
The College Continues its Purpose…
The College remains entirely dedicated to its objects, which serve mankind as a whole, and make available to people courses, events and information which make change possible. The College of Universal Medicine offers ‘Education for Life’ and is a charitable institution committed to being at the fore of the prevalent and topical issues affecting communities and society at large. We are enduring times where the normality of people suffering is enormous and growing, we have prolific illness and disease rates (and rising), a general malaise and giving up and a huge level of dissatisfaction in workers across the board, in addition to the corporate absenteeism affecting National GDP and well-being due to stress and exhaustion in particular. As such, the College will continue to run its very needed curriculum to offer people a way forward where they are empowered and inspired to live in a way that makes it possible to address these current ills, and re-establish true vitality, well-being, and joy as being a part of every day life.
We look forward to continuously build on the strong foundations built in preceding years.