Urgent call for Government registration of naturopaths to protect the public

A Perth man with no known qualifications as a naturopath has allegedly sexually assaulted seven women over a five year period. On Friday (18/12/2020), a Perth jury was unable to reach verdicts in the case of a man, referred to as a “naturopath”.

While the case will need to be re-examined through a retrial, there is no known evidence that this man holds any qualifications that are accepted by Australian naturopathic associations recognised by the World Naturopathic Federation.

The public continues to be at risk from unqualified individuals representing themselves as a “naturopath” until regulatory restrictions are put in place to protect the title “Naturopath”, the public and regulate minimum standards of training.

The Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH) has been calling on the government for more than ten years to protect the public and register the professions of naturopaths and Western herbalists

The Naturopathy profession is currently self-regulated with limited opportunity to uphold minimum standards and protect the professional title, Naturopath.  Unless the government acts on its own recommendation to register the Naturopathy profession, the public will continue to be at risk of potential harm. (refer: The Practice and Regulatory Requirements for Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine. (pdf) 2005 Victorian government report on the regulation of naturopaths and herbalists)

ARONAH requires naturopaths to have completed a minimum of a Bachelor degree, and this minimum standard is supported by the Naturopath and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA) and Complementary Medicines Association (CMA) (who are both members of the World Naturopathic Federation). Approximately 7% of Australians have consulted with a naturopath in the previous 12 months, across diverse age groups and geographical locations, and for a wide variety of conditions including those with complex health needs such as cancer, pregnancy, and mental illness. There is also a substantial number of Australian naturopaths in research positions in universities throughout Australia. Current clinical evidence suggests naturopathic treatment may be effective for a range of conditions including depression and anxiety, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and female reproductive disorders.

There are some measures patients can take to ensure their practitioners are qualified: “Asking practitioners about their training, and whether they are a member of ARONAH or if not, at least a professional association recognised by the World Naturopathic Federation, may offer some indication of whether a naturopathic practitioner is legitimately qualified. Patients can also complain to the health ombudsman or commissioner in their state if they do have a complaint about an individual practitioner” says Amie Steel, Director of ARONAH.