Registration and how to apply

Topics on this page include:

Registration

Any person who wishes to practise acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine or offer Chinese herbal dispensing services in Australia using any of the protected titles (i.e. calling themselves) as follows must be registered from 1 July 2012. If a person does not hold registration and uses any of these titles, they risk being in breach of the National Law and the Board may take action:

  • Chinese medicine practitioner
  • acupuncturist
  • Chinese herbal medicine practitioner
  • Oriental medicine practitioner, or
  • Chinese herbal dispenser

Any person who claims to be qualified to practise Chinese Medicine.

Any person who hold themselves out as a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (acupuncturist, or Chinese herbal medicine practitioner of Chinese herbal dispenser).

Any person who uses any title, name, initial, symbol, word or description that in circumstances would be reasonably understood to mean that they practise Chinese medicine (i.e. acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine or Chinese herbal dispensing).

If you do not register, you cannot:

  • use any of the protected titles as follows:
    • Chinese medicine practitioner
    • acupuncturist
    • Chinese herbal medicine practitioner
    • Chinese herbal dispenser
    • Oriental medicine practitioner
  • claim to be qualified to practise in Chinese medicine
  • hold yourself out as a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (acupuncturist, or Chinese herbal medicine practitioner of Chinese herbal dispenser); or
  • use any title, name, initial, symbol, word or description that in circumstances would be reasonably understood to mean that you are a Chinese medicine practitioner or a Chinese herbal dispenser.

These restrictions apply to your advertising (in all forms), what you say verbally to patients, what you write on receipts, etc.

It is difficult to practise Chinese medicine without breaching the above restrictions. If we receive a report and obtain evidence that you are breaching the above restrictions, the Board will take action to investigate that may lead to prosecution.

The National Law restricts use of title and holding out as being registered. The Board, however, strongly discourages any form of unregistered practice.

Yes. Belonging to a professional association is a voluntary decision. Holding registration is a legal requirement under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (the National Law).

Yes. There may be multiple methods of performing acupuncture that do not involve skin-penetration. The National Law restricts the use of specific professional titles, including acupuncturist and prohibits claiming to be authorised or qualified to offer acupuncture unless you are registered.

If the word acupuncture is used in the description of the treatment, as in laser acupuncture, and this is conveyed to patients, the practitioner is using a protected title and must be registered under the National Law.

Yes, you can apply for registration at a later date, but you will not be able to practice until you are registered.

You will then need to meet all the Board's registration standards when you re-apply, including criminal history and identity checks, continuing professional development, recency of practice and English language requirements.

As of 4 February 2015, a new process applies for checking criminal history outside of Australia. For more information, please refer to the International criminal history page on the AHPRA website.

It depends on whether you:

  • use any of the protected titles as follows:
    • Chinese medicine practitioner
    • acupuncturist
    • Chinese herbal medicine practitioner
    • Chinese herbal dispenser
    • Oriental medicine practitioner
  • claim to be qualified to practise Chinese medicine
  • hold yourself out as a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (acupuncturist, or Chinese herbal medicine practitioner of Chinese herbal dispenser)
  • use any title, name, initial, symbol, word or description that in circumstances would be reasonably understood to mean that you are a Chinese medicine practitioner.

If you do any of the above, you must register.

There has been no change to the law on use of courtesy titles such as Doctor or Professor as a result of passage of the National Law. These are not protected titles under the Law.

It is not the Board's role to advise registered practitioners on whether or not to use such courtesy titles. It should, however, be noted that there is no law that prevents any practitioner from using the title Doctor, as long as they do not mislead the public into believing that they are a registered medical practitioner under the National Law when they are not.

In order to avoid committing such an offence, if a practitioner of Chinese medicine chooses to adopt the title 'Dr' then they should make clear that they are a doctor of Chinese medicine rather than Western medicine whenever they use such a title. It is fair to say that when people use title such as Professor, the general public will assume they are representing the highest level of qualification and experience in the relevant fields.

For registered practitioners considering the use of such titles, words or letters, the Board encourages them to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Why do I wish to use this title, these words or these letters?
  • Am I well qualified in the areas of practice that I offer and promote with these words?
  • Is the basis for my use of title or other words or letters: - relevant to my area of health practice?
    • current?
    • verifiable?
    • credible?
  • If I display/promote my qualifications, perhaps using letters on my card, is it easy to understand?
  • Is there any risk of people misunderstanding or misinterpreting the words, letters or titles I use?

Even though you are currently appointed as a professor in an Australian university or as a visiting Professor with an overseas or local institution, you should not use this title in a private practice as this is a conflict of interest by using such titles to gain personal benefit.

In Australia and New Zealand, the titles 'Professor' and 'Associate Professor' are used by academics and can only be used by an individual while that person is currently employed by the conferring higher education institution in that role. The right to use the title is extinguished on resignation or retirement from the institution. The exception is an Emeritus Professor who may use that title for life, but the term Emeritus is used in conjunction with the title Professor.

In Australia the use of the title Professor or Associate Professor directly implies that the person is currently employed in that role in an Australian University. Chinese medicine practitioners who hold current 'Visiting Professor, Adjunct Professor, Distinguished Professor or Honorary Professor' status at an institution, should not mislead the public by omitting the word 'Visiting' or 'Honorary' from their use of the title.

It is the practitioner's responsibility to determine whether or not they can fairly carry the title without misleading the public. When using the title 'Professor' in advertising the FULL name of the institution conferring the title should be included in order to fully inform the reader. Should the Board have reservations about an individual's legitimacy in carrying any title, it has the authority to investigate.

Even though you are currently appointed as a professor in an Australian university or as a visiting professor with an overseas or local institution, you should not use this title in a private practice as this is a conflict of interest by using such titles to gain personal benefit.

Both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners can legally use the title Chinese medicine practitioner. Chinese medicine is considered to include the practices of:

  • Chinese herbal medicine, and/or
  • acupuncture.

Not necessarily. Manufactured herbal medicines are widely available over the counter in a range of outlets including Asian grocery stores. If as a treating practitioner, however, you advise persons to use certain herbs or herbal preparations, you are professionally accountable for that advice and the Board has jurisdiction over all your conduct and practices.

You must not use the following titles:

  • Chinese herbal medicine practitioner
  • any other title, whether in English or any other language, which could be reasonably understood to induce a belief that you are registered as a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner under the National Law;
  • and must not knowingly or recklessly hold yourself out to be registered or authorised or qualified as a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner.

It is important to note that under section 116(1)(d) of the National Law, you must also not claim to be qualified to practise as a health practitioner in a regulated health profession.

Any signage or other advertising material should make it clear that you are only qualified and registered in the acupuncture division of the Register of Chinese medicine practitioners. Whenever you prescribe and dispense Chinese herbal medicines you should state/explain that you are not a registered Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. This verbal advice should be incorporated into any written advice provided by the practitioner, to the patient, and you should notate the patient record that you provided this information.

If your patient needs or wants treatment from a qualified Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, you should refer them.

It is also worth remembering that some herbs are toxic if used wrongly and the Drugs Poisons and Controlled substances law in each state and territory prohibits the use of some herbal substances for this reason.

Another issue is authentication of herbal medicine and potential interactions between drug and herbs, these are important safety issues associated with herbal medicine practice.

Any conditions on your current registration with the Victorian Board will transfer to your new national registration.

No. You must renew your registration annually and pay the annual registration renewal fee.

You will be required to complete and submit an annual renewal form declaring that you meet your relevant registration standards (i.e. CPD, criminal history, PII and recency of practice).

No, not necessarily. The Board is not involved in determining who has access to Medicare; this is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. The Board is only concerned with issues to do with registration and accreditation.

It depends on your particular situation and circumstances and what has happened since. Each case will be considered individually. The Board expects applicants to be candid about their past. A failure to report previous action taken will be considered serious, even if the underlying conduct was not so serious.

You are not required to be registered if you are not working in Australia but if you want to register prior to departure, then you will be required to pay the registration fee and meet the Board's standards. These standards will also apply on renewal. 

The National Law permits conditions to be imposed on a practitioner's registration by a National Board when deciding to register a practitioner. Conditions are imposed when a Board decides it is necessary or desirable in the circumstances. A practitioner must comply with the conditions on their registration and failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

For example, if you do not meet the English Language Skills Registration Standard, you may have a condition imposed.

The Board will advise you if it proposes to impose conditions including the conditions proposed and the reasons for the conditions. You will have an opportunity to make written or oral submissions about the conditions. The Board will then reach a decision on whether or not the conditions should be imposed. If you do not agree with that decision, you will have an opportunity to lodge an appeal.

 

Applications

Yes, applicants who applied before 30 September 2012 are still covered by the transitional enforcement policy. AHPRA will not take any action against you for practising provided you comply with all notices.

If you are refused registration you must cease to practice.

No. You may not practise until a decision has been made on your application for registration and you have been advised that registration has been granted.

No. The application will be considered to be an application under the National Law. You may be asked to provide additional information required under the national legislation, but you will not need to reapply.

Your application has been assessed by the Registration Committee which has requested further information.

The Committee assesses qualifications and other evidence. Where the evidence you have provided is not adequate, and further evidence is required for you to gain registration, you are given the opportunity to provide this. If you do not respond by the requested date your application will be assessed based on the information we have.

 

You will be required to pay a registration fee and, if you are applying for registration for the first time, you will also required to pay an application fee. Fees are tax deductible and GST free.

An application fee is a one-off fee, to cover administrative costs, including activities such as criminal history checks associated with processing a new application.

A registration fee is an annual fee that provides you with registration for your profession for that year.

Full details of the fee structure which includes renewal fees, different fees for different categories of registration and fees for administrative processes i.e change of name can be found on the Fees page.

Please note that if you are required to apply for an international history check from an approved supplier, you will be responsible for the cost of the check. For more information, please refer to the International criminal history page on the AHPRA website.

No. The registration fee is an annual licensing fee and not a fee for service. Everyone must pay the full fee at the same time every year. It is tax deductible. It is GST free.

 

Qualifications

A list of approved programs leading to the qualifications necessary to register as a Chinese medicine practitioner in the divisions of acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine or Chinese herbal dispensing is available on the Accreditation page.

Alternatively you may be required to pass an examination set by the board or a person or body nominated by the board.

It is important to note that you must also meet all the board's requirements for suitability as a person. Suitability takes into consideration:

  • any impairment that would detrimentally affect your capacity to practise
  • criminal history
  • any unfinished legal proceedings
  • English language competence
  • any current suspension or cancellation of registration in any jurisdiction
  • your recency of practice
  • whether you can demonstrate the required amount of continuing professional development
  • whether you have professional indemnity insurance
  • whether you are a fit and proper person
  • whether you are able to practise competently and safely and
  • any other prescribed requirements.

From 4 February 2015 onwards, a new process will apply for checking criminal history outside of Australia. For more information, please refer to the International criminal history page on the AHPRA website.

New applicants for registration must provide sufficient evidence of their identity. To see the requirements relating to proof of identity please see the application for registration form.

Where a person has graduated from an approved program of study the Board has the power to register that person without requiring them to sit an examination or undertake further study.

To receive approval from the Board, a program must provide a level of educational effectiveness, integrity, and quality that consistently produces graduates who can safely serve the Australian public as registered acupuncturists and/or Chinese herbal medicine practitioners and/or Chinese herbal dispensers.

By approving programs, the Board is able to assure the public that an academic institution's educational program satisfies the Board's standards for basic Chinese medicine education.

Yes, if your qualification has been assessed by the Board for dispenser registration after you had already applied, you may submit an application for registration in the extra division of Chinese herbal dispensing by:

  • completing and submitting the form for Application for an additional division of registration available on the Forms page
  • paying the difference in the application fee (if you are already registered in two divisions $50, if you are already registered in just one division $100).

It is not necessary to resubmit documents which you have already provided to the Board. If you need assistance with completing the application please phone AHPRA on 1300 419 495.

 

Limited registration

Some practitioners have qualifications which require more consideration by the Board to determine whether they meet the requirements for general registration.

Under the National Law, the Board is able to grant limited registration if it considers it to be in the public interest.

As these practitioners have submitted a timely and complete application, and are currently providing services as a health practitioner, the Board has decided to allow them to continue to practise while it undertakes this further consideration.

Practitioners granted limited registration will receive a letter from AHPRA explaining what it means.

This limited registration is granted only until such time as the Board grants general registration, or until 31 December 2012. While holding limited registration, a practitioner cannot change their employer or scope of work without advising AHPRA.

Unless the practitioner advises AHPRA otherwise, the National Board will take the information have provided to be an application for general registration and will continue to assess the qualifications. This may include seeking some additional information or evidence from the practitioner.

If the qualifications provided in the application are approved at a later date, the practitioner will be granted General Registration. No additional fee is payable.

No, not at all! Under the National Law, the Board is able to grant limited registration if it considers it to be in the public interest.

The Board has decided that it is in the public interest that you should be able to continue to practise to minimise disruption to the public. The Board will continue to assess your qualifications and will notify you as soon as it has reached a decision about your qualification.

We emphasise to practitioners that if you are granted limited registration on 1 July it is to allow your continued practise while your application continues to be assessed. This has been necessary because of the large volume of applications received by AHPRA in a short period of time.

Some practitioners have qualifications that are not on the current list of programs of study that have been approved by the Board. This means that AHPRA needs to do a bit more work to get information about these qualifications.

The decision to grant limited registration does not reflect on your competence.

No. A practitioner can move address as long as they are providing the same services to similar types of patients in similar circumstances with the same standards (of practice, of premises, of record-keeping, of privacy etc.).

If there is a substantial change happening AHPRA should be advised by calling 1300 419 495 between 09:00am - 05:00pm (local time).

 

Non-practising registration

Chinese medicine practitioners with non-practising registration cannot undertake any clinical practice (as defined below) or use any of the protected titles. They are not permitted to treat, prescribe or refer, regardless of whether they are being remunerated.

There is a reduced fee for non-practising registration. These practitioners continue to receive the Board's publications.

This type of registration may be suitable for practitioners who:

  • have retired completely from Chinese medicine practice or
  • are not practising temporarily (for example on maternity or sick leave).
 
 
 
Page reviewed 24/09/2013