Complementary Healthcare Council


Addressing your concerns relating to the Registration of Naturopaths & Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners…

What is statutory registration?

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a single body (AHPRA , the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency) to implement and oversee the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).

The objectives of the National Scheme are to:

  • Help keep the public safe by ensuring that only health practitioners who a re suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered
  • Facilitate workforce mobility for health practitioners
  • Facilitate provision of high quality education and training for practitioners
  • Facilitate the assessment of overseas qualified practitioners
  • Facilitate access to provided by health practitioners, and
  • Enable the continuous development of a flexible Australian health workforce.

Why do Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine practitioners need statutory registration?

  • Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners are one of the largest unregulated health professions, and also one of the fastest growing professions (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008).
  • In Australia, the demand for complementary and alternative medicines   is increasing, with 1 in 6 Australians consulting with Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners.  They are a significant component of Australian primary healthcare professions, and account for up 8.7 million health consultations per year.
  • The high prevalence and primary care role of Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners in the healthcare sector urged the Victorian Government to investigate the regulatory requirements of Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners in 2003. The report (Lin et al2005) from the formal enquiry was published in 2006, where it was found that registration of these profession was warranted, and made a strong recommendation that they be statutory regulated under arrangements similar to those undertaken in the registration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What other Health Professions are Nationally Registered?

Health Professions that are nationally regulated by a corresponding National Board include:

  • Medical practitioners
  • Nurses and Midwives
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners
  • Chinese medicine practitioners (including acupuncturists, Chinese herbal medicine practitioners and Chinese herbal dispensers)
  • Chiropractors
  • Osteopaths
  • Dental practitioners (including dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists & dental therapists)
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Optometrists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Medical radiation practitioners (including diagnostic radiographers, radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists), and
  • Occupational therapists

Who is responsible for making the high level decisions within a Health Profession that is Nationally Registered?

The National Boards
In partnership with AHPRA, the National Boards for each respective Profession set the registration standards that practitioners must meet in order to register.

Once registered, practitioners must continue to meet the standards and renew their registration yearly with the National Board.

Who makes up the National Board of each Health Profession?

  • The National Boards are made up of between half and two thirds practitioner members, with the remainder to be made up of community members.
  • The Chair is to be a practitioner member.
  • Practitioner members must be made up of practitioners who would be eligible for registration of the Board (for example practising or accredited Naturopaths and Western Herbalists).
  • There must also be at least one member from each of the states and territories.
  • With at least one of the practitioner members  from rural or regional Australia.
  • The only requirement for community members is that they have not been or are not currently eligible for membership of the register for that Board.
  • There are no geographical restrictions and members of other health professions are allowed to apply as community members.
  • Although it is not a requirement, having representatives of other health professions as community members is encouraged to promote dialogue between the Boards.

What level of training and qualifications will I need to be eligible for registration as a Naturopath or Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner? 

  • It is important to set a baseline educational standard for our professions (Naturopathy and Western Herbalists) to ensure that there is a standard, base-level of knowledge and skills that all professionals holding the title of Naturopath or Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners can be expected to have.
  • In 2003, the Victorian Government (The Department of Health and Ageing) commissioned research into The Practice and Regulatory Requirements of Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine (Lin et al, published in 2005), in which it was recommended the professions of Naturopath and Western Herbalists work towards a Bachelor degree as the minimum requirement for entry into practice (Lin et al, p23).
It is most plausible that practitioners who have gained their Advanced diploma or Bachelor qualifications through approved courses or who are assessed independently via means comparable to the vetting method used by Professional Associations (an example of which would be Clause 2 of the National Herbalist Association of Australia (NHAA) full membership application) will be eligible for Registration.

For more information on Registration eligibility and the different categories of Registration please see The Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009:

General Registration: Part 7, Registration of Health Practitioners, Division 1, pp 72-74
Specialist Registration: Part 7, Registration of Health Practitioners: Division 2, pp 75-77
Provisional Registration: Part 7, Registration of Health Practitioners: Division 3, pp 78-79
Limited Registration: Part 7, Registration of Health Practitioners: Division 4, pp 80-83
Non-Practising Registration: Part 7, Registration of Health Practitioners: Division 5, pp 83-85

The Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009 is a detailed framework and reference point for what Registration will look like for Naturopaths and Western Herbal Medicine Practitioners.
All Australian States and Territories have enacted the National Law.

Will my training and experience still be recognised even if I do not hold a Bachelor degree of qualification? 

(Section 303, page 203, of the National Law Act 2009)

For Practitioners whose training does not fulfill the minimum requirement for Registration eligibility, a Grandparenting arrangement (a provision by which an exemption may be granted according to a set period of time) will likely be granted for those who have been in practise for a consecutive period of 5 years or for any periods which together amount to 5 years.

In the interests of facilitating the change and for those whose qualifications are deemed insufficient, transitional agreements (rather like a period of grace) will likely be afforded for Practitioners to participate in and complete further studies in order to fulfil the National Standard of Qualification. 

After this period of transition,  the minimum training and qualifications level set by the Board for entry into the Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine professions will become a prerequisite for Registration eligibility.

Jon Wardle, in his article The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme: what would inclusion mean for naturopathy and Western herbal medicine? Part I: The legislation (Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism 2010 22(4) p117), states that the focus of regulation will be on reaching these standards over a period of time rather than imposing them arbitrarily, and education providers and practitioners will be given an appropriate amount of time to meet these new standards.

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