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With a number of State and Federal Government reviews underway, we can expect a raft of changes to our industry's regulatory and operating environment. As the leading massage industry group in Australia we have a significant stake in this process. The AAMT Bulletin will keep you informed about the developments in our industry and the ongoing contributions of the AAMT.

Tricia Hughes
BA (SocSci), Dip HR Management, MAICD, CSA (cert)
Chief Executive Officer

Reviews and regulation

AAMT commissions independent evidence review

In response to the Federal Government's Review of the Private Health Insurance Rebate (PHIR) for Natural Therapies the AAMT has commissioned an independent review of available research regarding the clinic benefit of massage treatments.

The AAMT has engaged the International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE) School of Health Sciences (Physiotherapy) University of South Australia (UniSA) to undertake the review.

UniSA's approach involves a systemic review of existing peer reviewed material as this removes bias from the information found to meet the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRCs) exacting stands on research.

The body of knowledge (BOK) gathered, and the AAMTs systemic review data on efficacy and safety, will serve to inform the PHIR on the effects and outcomes of massage on musculoskeletal conditions.

The AAMT is also working to address gaps in evidence surrounding the clinical benefits of somatic and/or other modalities. Although this evidence may not meet the NHMRC review criteria, they are relevant documentation that should guide further research. The goal is to provide a focus and repository for evidence and information as it comes to light.

Unethical alternative therapists put on notice

Under new powers being considered by the state government for Victoria's Health Services Commissioner (VHSC), alternative health practitioners could be fined or jailed for breaching professional standards.

The new powers would enable the VHSC to ban or restrict alternative therapists from practicing if they breach a statutory code of conduct, and if it deems it necessary, instigate court action to enforce the orders.

Unlike nurses dentists and doctors who are regulated by national boards with punitive powers, the Commissioner has limited powers to deal with alternative therapists who behave unethically.

The AAMT is committed to leading and supporting improved regulation and standards and is a proactive supporter of the COAG initiative.

This has included preparing the following submissions:

  • "AAMT Position on a Co Regulatory Environment 26/11/2009",
  • "AAMT's submission in response to the Consultation Paper 'Options for Regulation of Unregistered Health Practitioners' Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council.

Under COAG, Australia's state and federal health ministers agreed to investigate a national scheme in 2010 however, not agreement has been reached on its implementation.

A discussion paper about the future management of health complaints, suggests that Victoria may go ahead with its own scheme to regulate alternative therapists if there is no national scheme.

Further information: Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council

Broadened powers pick up unregistered health practitioners

Underpinning the NSW Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners (poster format) are broadened powers for the NSW Health Care Commission's in relation to unregistered health practitioners, which became law during 2008 under the Health Legislation Amendment (Unregistered Health Practitioners) Act 2006.

The Code of Conduct is available in ten community languages (status July 2010). On 1 July 2010, the Code was amended and now also applies to the previously registered professions of optical dispensers and dental technicians. As of 1 September 2012, minor changes to the Code were made under schedule 3 of the Public Health Regulation 2012.

Complaints to the South Australian Health and Community Service Commission about unregistered practitioners have highlighted a need for public information to help people decide if a service being offered by an unregistered practitioner is likely to be safe or good quality.

Clients and patients that may have concerns about public safety risks posed by an unregistered practitioner can now contact Commission for help and support. A guide has also been developed and is now available for download.

Further information: Unregistered Service Providers Guide

AAMT contributes to Victorian Health Services Act review

The AAMT is participating in the roundtable discussion to consider aspects of the Conciliation and Review requirements outlined in the Health Services Act 1987.

This is the third review of a health complaints Act as State Governments implement their commitments to COAG.

The discussion will provide an opportunity to 'road test' proposals under consideration by the Review Panel. The first of the three roundtable sessions will take place during October. Proposals will be presented to each group based on the issues that have arisen from the consultation and in the context of ideas canvassed in the Discussion Paper. Attendees at the roundtable include:

  • Meredith Carter Health Issues Centre
  • Bernie Geary Child Safety Commissioner
  • Rae Lamb Aged Care Commissioner
  • Sue Beck Health Services Liaison Association
  • Jane Stephens AMA (Vic Branch)
  • John Snowdon Southern Health
  • Troy Browning Medical Indemnity Protection Society
  • Tricia Hughes Australian Association of Massage Therapists

More information: Victorian Health Services Act Review

Professional development

Australian Skills Quality Authority to guide accreditation

AAMT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) with the main objective of fostering communication between the two organisations in relation to the massage therapy qualifications delivered by Colleges that are Recognised Training Authorities (RTOs).

It is important that Colleges and Health Funds do not attempt to use the Association as a mechanism for accreditation of qualification, curriculum content and delivery. This is not the jurisdiction of AAMT. Our main objective is to provide the relevant authorities with industry comment and standards. It is then up to the training package and the Colleges to meet those standards.

Assessing members for competency and Colleges for quality would be a conflict of interest and an unethical business practice.

The MOU with ASQA allows AAMT to feed directly into the mechanism of quality delivery as the Association receives concerns or complaints from students and members alike around the standard of education practices. AAMT is looking forward to working collaboratively with ASQA by communicating potential training quality issues and risks.

More information:

AAMT 2013 9th National Conference - Evidence based practice

The AAMT Conference will be held in Adelaide on the 25th and 26th of May 2013.

Key themes for the conference include the importance of evidence in natural medicine and how the bridge between science and practice is possible for therapists. It also includes a panel of research cases being presented by leading advocates including interactive sessions about research methodology and outcomes.

More information: National Conference

AAMT does big year

The 2011/2012 financial year has proved to be a big year, delivering some significant outcomes for the AAMT and its members, and establishing a solid platform for the organisation long term. Main achievements for 2011-2012 include:

  • A turnover of over $2 million
  • $1.3 million raised from membership fees
  • An Equity position at over $1 million
  • An increase in net profit after tax of 21.26%
  • A 12.86% increase in Total Assets to $1.98 million
  • A 12.22% increase in Total Income to $2.08 million.
  • A 18.50% increase in Cash Assets

More information:

Overseas' goings-on

US shows growing use of massage for medical reasons

The American Massage Therapy Association, in its latest Industry Facts reports continuing support from health professionals in referring patients for massage treatment. Forty-four (44) percent of adult Americans who had a massage between July 2010 and July 2011 received it for medical or health reasons compared to 35 percent the previous year.

Of the people who had at least one massage in the last five years, 40 percent reported they did so for health conditions such as pain management, injury rehabilitation, migraine control, or overall wellness.

While the AMTA reports that 96 percent of massage therapists received at least one referral every six months from a hospital or medical office in 2011, the 2011 AMTA Industry Survey showed that on average, massage therapists received around four referrals per month, twice as many as in previous years.

The 2011 and 2010 AMTA Consumer Surveys also reported that more than 39.0 million adult Americans (15 percent) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers in the previous year. Of the 15 percent, 31 percent of their health care providers strongly recommended massage therapy.

Physicians also led the way in recommending massage (52 percent vs. 50 percent in 2010), chiropractors (50 percent vs. 35 percent in 2010) and physical therapists (49 percent vs. 38 percent in 2010).

The number of nurses recommending massage doubled in 2011, with 26 percent of nurses recommending massage in 2011 versus 13 percent in 2010.

More than half of adult Americans (59 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.

More information: 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet

Canadian employers may foot bigger injury bill

Massage Therapy Canada (MTC) has reported Canada's Remedial Massage Therapists are at risk for losing a major source of funding for patients as employee benefit plans are being scaled back.

This is of major concern because the impact of these workplace-related illnesses involving the ancillary costs in lost workdays, turnover and employee dissatisfaction are significant and massage plays a key role in returning injured workers back to work.

For example, the MTC has also reported that in a survey commissioned by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, 75 per cent of patients or clients use employee workplace benefits to pay, or partially pay, for their care.

Job-related stress also accounts for an estimated $16 billion in Canada (around AUS$15.5B) and $300 billion in the United States (around AUS$290B).

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are estimated to affect one in ten Canadians.

More information: Insurance Coverage for Massage Therapy

New research and papers

Recently published papers

Topolska M, Chrzan S, Sapu?a R, Kowerski M, Sobo? M, Marczewski K. (Apr, 2012). Evaluation of the effectiveness of therapeutic massage in patients with neck pain Ortop Traumatol Rehabil. 2012 Apr 30;14(2):115-24.

Vulfsons S, Ratmansky M, Kalichman L.. (May, 2012). Trigger Point Needling: Techniques and Outcome. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2012 May 18.

Sari H, Akarirmak U, Uludag M. (Jun, 2012). Active myofascial trigger points might be more frequent in patients with cervical radiculopathy. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2012 Jun;48(2):237-44.

Macdonald G, Penney M, Mullaley M, Cuconato A, Drake C, Behm DG, Button DC. (May, 2012). An Acute Bout of Self Myofascial Release Increases Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activation or Force. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May 10.

Silva LM, Schalock M, Garberg J, Smith CL. (May, 2012). Qigong massage for motor skills in young children with cerebral palsy and down syndrome Am J Occup Ther. 2012 May-Jun;66(3):348-55.

More information: Soft Tissue Therapy

Australian Association of Massage Therapists Ltd
Level 6, 85 Queen St MELBOURNE VIC 3000
Tel: 1300 138 872 / 03 9691 3700 | Fax: 03 9602 3088 | Email: