If you are a physiotherapist in Australia practising acupuncture you should be aware of a new fact sheet that has been published by the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. The fact sheet on endorsement for acupuncture has been developed to inform physiotherapists about their obligations in relation to acupuncture. It is important that physiotherapists are aware of their obligations relating to acupuncture and be careful not to breach the requirements of the National Law.
When the Physiotherapy Board has developed, consulted on, then finalised, the necessary standards to be able to process applications for endorsement for acupuncture, this will be an additional pathway for physiotherapists to legally use the protected title of acupuncturist. Until then, the other pathway for legally using the title acupuncturist is to be registered by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. From 1 July 2012, it will be an offence for physiotherapists in any part of Australia to take or use the title acupuncturist if they are not registered by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia or have their registration endorsed by the relevant Board.
The commencement of the national restriction on the use of the title acupuncturist from 1 July 2012 means that physiotherapists may not advertise or hold themselves out to be an acupuncturist without registration with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, as the standards necessary for holding an endorsement for acupuncture from the Physiotherapy Board of Australia are not yet available.
As outlined above, the National Law does not restrict treatment activities or methods relating to acupuncture, only the use of the protected title acupuncturist. Physiotherapists undertaking acupuncture or dry needling are therefore not restricted in this practice, as long as they do not call themselves an acupuncturist, or hold out to be a registered acupuncturist.