Chinese Medicine Board of Australia - 2019/20 annual summary
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2019/20 annual summary

Snapshot of the profession

  • 4,921 Chinese medicine practitioners
    • Up 0.6% from 2018/19
    • 0.6% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.4% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 57.0% female; 43.0% male


Age: 0.4% < 25, 10.0% 25-34, 23.7% 35-44, 26.4% 45-54, 25.7% 55-64, 12.1% 65-74, 1.7% > 75

Audit outcomes

Audit: 50.0% fully compliant, 0.0% compliant (through education), 50.0% non-compliant, 0.0% no audit action required


  • 97.9% Registered as an acupuncturist
  • 64.0% Registered as Chinese herbal medicine practitioner
  • 21.8% Registered as a Chinese herbal dispenser


  • 37.0% Registered in one division
  • 42.5% Registered in two divisions
  • 20.6% Registered in three divisions

Regulating the profession


  • 38 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 66 Chinese medicine practitioners Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them 
    • 1.3% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: 50.0% patient, relative or member of the public, 23.7% HCE, 13.2% other practitioner, 2.6% employer, 2.6% Board’s own motion, 7.9% other

  • 2 immediate actions taken
  • 4 mandatory notifications received
    • all about professional standards

Most common types of complaint

Most common types of complaint: 42.1% clinical care, 10.5% boundary violation, 10.5% breach of non-offence provision National Law, 5.3% medication, 5.3% behaviour, 26.3% other

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 38 notifications closed (21.1% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 5.3% received a caution or reprimand, 2.6% registration suspended or cancelled, 28.9% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 42.1% no further action)


  • 27 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year 
  • 818 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 2 for conduct
    • 4 for performance
    • 4 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 808 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 16 criminal offence complaints made
    • 11 about title protection 
    • 1 about practice protection 
    • 4 about advertising breaches
    • 15 were closed 

Referrals to an adjudication body

  • 1 matter decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • No appeals

A report from the Chair

Regulatory response to COVID-19

COVID-19 proved to be a national public health crisis that evolved rapidly and challenged all Australians. The Chinese Medicine Board of Australia worked with Ahpra to provide an overlay of emergency regulation over the existing practitioner regulation framework. 

Policy updates

Needling and acupuncture

The Board worked with the Chinese Medicine Council of NSW to provide registered Chinese medicine practitioners with access to the educational resource on safe needling on the thorax to prevent pneumothorax. The education resource was developed by the Council following several notifications associated with pneumothorax in recent years.

In March, the Board published a statement on the use of unregistered assistants to remove acupuncture needles from patients. The removal of acupuncture needles from patients is an integral component of the professional service provided by the registered practitioner. This task should not be delegated to an unregistered assistant.

New professional capabilities

In December, the Board released Professional capabilities for Chinese medicine practitioners. These capabilities identify the knowledge, skills and professional attributes required to safely and competently practise as an acupuncturist, and/or a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, and/or a Chinese herbal dispenser in Australia. They describe the threshold level of professional capability required for both initial and continuing registration.


The Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee carries out accreditation functions for Chinese medicine in the National Scheme. Following public consultation, the accreditation committee’s proposed 2019 Accreditation standards for registered Chinese medicine practitioners were approved in late 2019 by the Board, to be in effect as of June 2020. 

The new accreditation standards will replace the current (2013) accreditation standards. 

Our accreditation committee, together with the Accreditation Councils and committees for all professions regulated within the National Scheme, has adopted the collective position of the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum with respect to accredited programs and the impact of COVID-19.

Stakeholder engagement 

Reference Group

The Chinese Medicine Reference Group’s purpose is to enhance a common understanding of the National Scheme from the differing perspectives of stakeholders. The fourth meeting was held in Sydney in October. The meeting included informative updates from a range of stakeholders including Ahpra’s Community Reference Group, which supported the Board’s activities to reach rural and remote practitioners, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration representative who spoke about the progress of reforms to the complementary medicine regulatory framework. 

Practitioner forums

The Board held practitioner forums in NSW and Queensland before the end of 2019 and an online forum for practitioners in Cairns in February. Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel several other planned forums. Alternative arrangements on digital platforms are being developed. 

Meeting with national associations

In April, the Board met with representatives from the six national professional associations: 

  • Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) 
  • Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Society of Australia Ltd (CMASA) 
  • Chinese Medicine Industry Council (CMIC) 
  • Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies of Australia (FCMA) 
  • Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) 
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS). 

There was robust discussion on several profession-specific issues with a major focus on the impact of COVID-19 on the profession. The Board published a communiqué following the meeting. 

Other news 

The Board welcomed Ms Stephanie Campbell as a community member for her first term, which started in November. 

The Board announced that registration fees have been frozen at $579 for another consecutive year.

Distinguished Professor Charlie C. Xue, Chair 

National Scheme thanks long-term Chinese Medicine Board Chair

The Chinese Medicine Board and Ahpra acknowledge and thank Distinguished Professor Charlie Xue for his dedication to the profession as Board Chair since Chinese medicine joined the National Scheme in 2011. For the past nine years, Distinguished Professor Xue has made outstanding contributions to the regulation of Chinese medicine. Under his leadership, national standards for Chinese medicine have been developed and the profession has grown to nearly 5,000 practitioners. Charlie finishes his role as Chair in December 2020.

Page reviewed 22/11/2021