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Naturopaths call for government regulation in the name of public safety

Australia’s oldest complementary medicine association, the NHAA, has renewed its bid for government regulation for the Naturopathic and Herbal Medicine professions.

The Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA) has long been, and continues to be, strongly in favour of regulation of the profession of naturopathy and herbal medicine through statutory registration. “The public must have confidence that when someone calls themselves a naturopath or herbal medicine practitioner” said Natalie Cook, President of the NHAA, “the education and licensing requirements exist which not only protect the public but maintain the integrity of our ethical practitioners.”

“This same level of protection is something we take for granted in many health professions like doctors and dentists, but also Chinese Medicine Practitioners. Now naturopaths and herbal medicine practitioners are renewing their call for the same type of government controlled checks and balances through statutory regulation.” Currently the professional associations take on the role of not only providing member support and services, but also that of quasi regulators. There are however many associations with differing standards and requirements and Australia’s most respected practitioners are calling for a national licencing board. Ms Cook said, “The NHAA already ensures its standards are in line with those set by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as one of many actions we hope will allow this to happen sooner than later.”

What we have seen this week, is that the current system is clearly not enough and we are calling on the Federal Health Minister to open pathways for new professions to apply to be regulated under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. The professions of Naturopathy and herbal medicine have been assessed against the requirements by previous government reviews, have been found to meet the requirements and yet remain unregistered. Naturopaths in Australia are required to complete a 4 year degree with a strong foundation in biological sciences to meet requirements for practice. However, “When someone with no recognised training in naturopathy is able to claim to be a naturopath and then be found to cause harm in doing so, the whole profession is unfairly tarnished”. The NHAA has been setting standards for the industry since 1920. Protection of title and compulsory registration of practitioners will help ensure these high standards are maintained.

Natalie Cook
NHAA President