19 October 2010

A University of Queensland researcher will serve on Australia’s first regulatory board for naturopaths and herbalists, which from next year will make seeing a complementary medicine practitioner a lot safer.

The Board for the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH) is expected to begin operation in mid 2011.

World-leading complementary medicine researcher, and Director of the Network of Researchers in the Public Health of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NORPHCAM), Associate Professor Jon Adams from UQ’s School of Population Health has been selected as a community member on the Board.

Associate Professor Adams’ role with ARONAH means the University will be actively involved in promoting higher standards for complementary medicine practitioners.

“This is an exciting development. Naturopaths and herbalists are one of the largest and fastest growing health professions in Australia,” Associate Professor Adams said.

“Nearly 10 per cent of Australians see one of these practitioners. The establishment of this Board is the first step to bringing standards and accountability up to the levels you’d expect with that use."

The University of Queensland has been long involved in the promotion of public safety in complementary medicines.

School of Population Health researcher Jon Wardle is a specialist in regulatory and policy developments in complementary medicine, and was part of the Steering Committee that established ARONAH.

“There has been broad support for the regulation of naturopaths and herbalists. Health insurers, government agencies, health practitioners and the public are all supportive of further regulation in these professions,” Mr Wardle said.

However, there was some opposition, for reasons that made independent regulation even more important, he said.

“Most professional associations representing naturopaths and herbalists are supportive of independent regulation," he said.

"There are a few that do oppose it, though this seems to be more related to protecting their own interests than those of the public or even the profession at large – we already know that nearly 90 per cent of naturopaths support regulation”.

“Although ARONAH is mirroring the National Registration Scheme to truly protect the public regulation of naturopaths and herbalists really need to be part of this scheme, otherwise practitioners who do the wrong thing can’t be held fully accountable to the letter of the law.

"But ARONAH is a great first step in introducing standards and accountability that just haven’t been there before.”

Full details of the new ARONAH Board are available on the ARONAH website – www.aronah.org

Media contacts:
Comments on naturopathic registration issues - Mr Jon Wardle, 0416 216 917

Comments on general use of complementary medicines - Associate Professor Jon Adams, 0404 933 790.