Chinese Medicine Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary
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2020/21 annual summary


  • 4,863 Chinese medicine practitioners
    • Down 1.2% from 2019/20
    • 0.6% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.5% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 57.3% female; 42.7% male


Age: <25 = 0.3%, 25 to 34 = 9.9%, 35 to 44 = 23.5%, 45 to 54 = 27.2%, 55 to 64 = 23.3%, 65 to 74 = 12.2%, >75 = 1.6%


Registered as:

Acupuncturist 98.0%
Chinese herbal medicine practitioner 64.1%
Chinese herbal dispenser 22.4%
Registered in one division 36.8%
Registered in two divisions 42.0%
Registered in three divisions 21.2%



  • 33 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 49 registered Chinese medicine practitioners Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 1.0% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 39.4%, HCE 27.3%, Other practitioner 9.1%, Board’s own motion 3.0%, Other 21.2%

  • 2 immediate actions taken

  • 1 mandatory notification received
    • about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Clinical care 21.2%, Breach of non-offence provision - National Law 12.1%, Medication 6.1%, Health impairment 6.1%, Documentation 6.1%, Boundary violation 6.1%, Confidentiality 6.1%, Other 36.4%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 32 notifications closed, 6.3% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 6.3% received a caution or reprimand, 3.1% registration suspended, 3.1% retained by a health complaints entity, 81.3% no further action


  • 27 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 786 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 5 for conduct
    • 1 for health reasons
    • 2 for performance
    • 5 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 773 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 9 criminal offence complaints made
    • 8 about title protection
    • 1 about advertising breaches
  • 14 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

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

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

This year saw the reshaping of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia and its way of working, due to both the ongoing disruption of COVID-19 and the appointment of five new Board members, including a new Board Chair. The new membership of the Board continued improving clinical practice standards and working towards greater integration with other health professions.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

COVID-19 affected the Board’s work, with the usual roadshows being replaced by a virtual webinar in October. In July, the Board published guidance on how Chinese medicine practitioners can use telehealth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in March the Board, together with Ahpra, published a joint statement on expectations of practitioners for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Policy updates

In Sydney in February, the Board held a pilot of the multiple-choice exam that forms part of the Board’s new regulatory examinations. While the project continued to be impacted with COVID-19 closing examination centres across the globe, the Examination Committee met for the first time in April.

In May, the Board published its revised statement on use of the protected title ‘acupuncturist’.


The Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee carried out accreditation functions for Chinese medicine. Following public consultation, the accreditation committee’s new Chinese medicine accreditation standards, Accreditation standards 2019, took effect on 1 June, superseding the 2013 standards. All education providers wishing to seek accreditation of Chinese medicine programs of study will be assessed against these accreditation standards and the professional capabilities for Chinese medicine practitioners.

Stakeholder engagement

In October, the Board held a webinar on Chinese medicine regulation in Australia. This webinar was attended by more than 550 practitioners and replaced the Board’s usual annual stakeholder engagement roadshow, which could not go ahead due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Other news

The Board’s membership substantially changed in February, with the appointment of five new Board members, including myself as the new Board Chair. We warmly welcomed practitioner members Ms Dina Tsiopelas, Mr Luke Hubbard and Dr Johannah Shergis, and community member Ms Sophy Athan. Mr Roderick Martin and Mr David Brereton were also reappointed for a further three-year term in February.

The Board thanks outgoing chair Distinguished Professor Charlie Xue for his outstanding commitment, leadership, dedication and contribution to the National Scheme and health practitioner regulation. We recognise also the contributions of retiring members Ms Di Wen Lai, Dr David Graham, Dr Liang Zhong Chen and Ms Christine Berle.

The Board also bade farewell to its longtime Executive Officer Ms Debra Gillick, who retired after almost 20 years’ service to the Chinese medicine profession.

Professor Danforn Lim

Page reviewed 22/11/2022