We respect other health practitioners, and have participated in round tables with other associations to see if a collaborative approach for co-regulation is possible. Not that long ago after much deliberation and round table discussions with the ATMS and others, the ANPA came to the clear conclusion that a co-regulatory model for naturopaths was not the best model. Co-regulation does not offer the highest level of protection for the public or the profession. There has been some talk of trademarking the name ‘naturopath’. This will not solve the problem for naturopaths. Dieticians use trademarking and it works where there is only one association for the profession. We have multiple associations for naturopaths. The government will not agree to broad sweeping changes for a profession without all stakeholders at the table. We also know that having numbers does not work either. Lobby groups in large numbers have not made any difference to important policy decisions. There were very few osteopaths when they became regulated. They were regulated because they were calling themselves doctor and they had the possibility of causing harm. We too have shown the government that we have the ‘potential’ to cause harm. The La Trobe report detailed this information to the government. This does not mean we focus on this issue to the exclusion of the overwhelming benefit we offer patients.
What we have now is self-regulation. We clearly understand it is not working. The position of the ANPA has always been to support the regulation model that maximises the best protection for the public as well as the profession of Naturopathy. This model still remains statutory registration. It is the only model that includes protection of title ‘naturopath’. Right now, someone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a naturopath with no education. The public is not protected from rogue operators, who affect the perception of our profession as a whole. This is a very serious issue.
A registered profession requires minimal education standards. There is no across the board standard for naturopathy education. At present there is an Advanced Diploma in teach out, some Bachelor degrees at 3 years and some at 4 years and sadly some operators offering 100% online education to unsuspecting students. Quite frankly, it is a mess. Registration will sort this out once and for all. The ANPA agenda is clear. It is about raising standards for the profession of Naturopathy.
A complaint may be lodged with a state based regulator or with a practitioner association. Practitioner associations are not independent. Registration will change this. A complaint handled by a practitioner association has the potential to be biased in favour of the member. Complaints can be messy and should be out of the hands of the associations. An independent complaints mechanism offers the best unbiased process.
Registration boards that govern the profession consist of a majority of members from the profession and a legal representative. These boards are not managed or interfered with by government bureaucrats. This is another example of baseless propaganda. I invite you to look at the boards for Osteopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc. This information is easily googled.
What we need is an urgent agenda item tabled with COAG with across the board support from State Health Ministers to enact the legislation for statutory registration. This is long overdue.
If any ANPA member is confused about these issues, please go to our ANPA Members page on Facebook and post your questions, or email the office.