Lack of statutory registration for naturopaths is exposing the public to unnecessary risk by allowing foreign companies to target Australians with â€˜diploma millâ€™ 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 â€œHypnotherapy Centre of Excellenceâ€ 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. â€œGraduates 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 thisâ€ says Dr Jon Wardle (PhD), administrator of ARONAH.
â€œARONAH 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 hereâ€ he continues.Â â€œTo the general public this is what it looks like it takes to become a naturopath.Â 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.Â Weâ€™ve heard the course is targeting New Zealand and it is showing up in Asia and the United States as well.Â Unfortunately the internet has made it much easier for these predatory courses to target the Australian and international markets.â€
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.
â€œMinimum 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 decadesâ€ added Dr Amie Steel (PhD), Chair of ARONAH.
â€œUntil 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 doesnâ€™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, weâ€™re severely limited in what we can doâ€
ARONAHâ€™s register mirrors the national registration and accreditation scheme to ensure public safety through minimum education standards.