In 2002–03 the Department of Human Services funded a study of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine (WHM) practice.

Research team

The study was undertaken by a consortium of researchers:

  • La Trobe University (lead agency)
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education and Research
  • RMIT University
  • Cochrane Group on Consumer Information and Communication
  • National Herbalists Association Australia.

Aims and objectives

The study aimed to:

  • investigate and understand the practice of naturopathy and WHM in Australia
  • make recommendations on the need (if any) for measures to protect the public.

The objectives of the study were to:

  • identify the scope and nature of practice of the professions of naturopathy and WHM, and the characteristics of the workforce in Australia
  • understand the reasons patients choose naturopathy and WHM, and any concerns or issues they have
  • understand the risks and benefits associated with the practice of naturopathy and WHM
  • identify the extent to which members of registered health professions are adopting naturopathic and WHM modalities and their training in these modalities
  • identify referral patterns and links between naturopathy/WHM practitioners and other healthcare providers
  • profile the education and training available to persons entering and practising these professions, and assess its adequacy
  • understand the aims and activities of professional associations representing practitioners of naturopathy and WHM
  • identify the extent of institutional support for the practice of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine in Australia
  • assess the impact of regulatory arrangements on the practice of naturopathy and WHM in Australia and overseas
  • assess the features of naturopathy and WHM against the AHMAC criteria for assessing the need for statutory regulation of unregulated health occupations
  • explore models of regulation and other measures to protect consumers of naturopathy and WHM.

Consultation, review and publication

The department invited submissions from interested parties on the report of the study and its findings and recommendations. Submissions closed on 31 October 2006.

The department then referred the report to the Australia Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) for consideration.

The final report of the study was released on 14 August 2006.

The practice and regulatory requirements of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine: project brief 2002–03

The practice and regulatory requirements of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine: final report

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