Dodgy naturopathy courses putting public at risk

Lack of statutory registration for naturopaths is exposing the public to unnecessary risk by allowing foreign companies to target Australians with ‘diploma mill’ courses in naturopathy, says the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH). The course, promoted on social media sites by Living Social for $35 is run by the “Hypnotherapy Centre of Excellence” based in Stockport, United Kingdom, and consists of two PDFs of 137/138 large font, double-spaced pages and 8 modules containing between 10-38 assessment questions.

This course does not align with international standards, does not meet World Health Organisation minimum standards for training in naturopathy, and is not recognised by education or professional regulators in Australia or the United Kingdom. “Graduates of this course would not be recognised for professional indemnity insurance, association or registration purposes and would not be eligible for health fund provider registration. The public and potential students have to be careful, because there are a number of courses out there like this” says Dr Jon Wardle (PhD), administrator of ARONAH.

“ARONAH has formally asked the British General Council and Register of Naturopaths and the British Naturopathic Association and both have confirmed that this course would not be eligible for an official certification in that country either, and is considered just as dodgy there as it is here” he continues.  “To the general public this is what it looks like it takes to become a naturopath.  It devalues the whole concept of professional training, which most Australian naturopaths have spent years acquiring, and throws untrained practitioners on an unsuspecting public. This kind of rot is dangerous and is exactly the reason registration is needed. This is an international issue.  We’ve heard the course is targeting New Zealand and it is showing up in Asia and the United States as well.  Unfortunately the internet has made it much easier for these predatory courses to target the Australian and international markets.”

Last year the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council withdrew support for Advanced Diploma education in the professions of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine in favour of a minimum degree level qualification from December 2015.

“Minimum four-year degree training for naturopaths has been promoted by ARONAH since its outset. Degree-level training, and statutory registration, for naturopaths, has been supported by every government report exploring the regulatory and educational requirements for naturopaths for the past two decades” added Dr Amie Steel (PhD), Chair of ARONAH.

“Until we have proper statutory registration of naturopaths, it is going to be almost impossible for the public to be able to identify qualified and trained practitioners. As it stands, you could probably get your cat qualified as a naturopath. And that doesn’t help patients, the public, or the naturopathic profession. As an independent register, we are trying to establish minimum standards of professional training and accountability. But without registration, we’re severely limited in what we can do”

ARONAH’s register mirrors the national registration and accreditation scheme to ensure public safety through minimum education standards.