Osteopathy Board of Australia - Celebrating the 45th anniversary of Australian regulation in World Osteopathic Healthcare Week
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Celebrating the 45th anniversary of Australian regulation in World Osteopathic Healthcare Week

15 Apr 2024

The Osteopathy Board of Australia is celebrating 45 years of statutory regulation for osteopaths in Australia this World Osteopathic Healthcare Week, 15-21 April 2024.

Australia was the first country in the world to fully regulate osteopathic practitioners, with the profession growing significantly since then.

‘We are proud to celebrate the 45th anniversary of osteopathy regulation in Australia, and the Board would like to thank and acknowledge the work of the members of boards and councils who have been involved in developing osteopathy regulation during this time,’ said Board Chair, Associate Professor Paul Orrock.

Osteopathy is one of the fastest growing registered health professions in Australia. Professional development has expanded alongside this growth, both in terms of participation in mainstream health services and research outputs. But once osteopathy was a tiny, virtually unknown health practice.

The first osteopaths in Australia practiced in the early 1900s - Edgar Culley in Victoria (1909) and Florence McGeorge in Tasmania (1913). Both were graduates of the American School of Osteopathy and were taught by the founder of the osteopathic profession, the physician Dr A T Still, in Kirksville Missouri, USA.

When statutory registration first occurred in Australia in 1978, there were only approximately 100 registered osteopaths, all of whom had trained in private colleges and had very low recognition to the public and other healthcare professionals. Now there are over 3500 registered osteopaths who are part of mainstream primary healthcare, who trained in public universities and subsequently have contributed to a growing body of research into their practice. The three universities with current osteopathic programs have more than 1500 enrolled students, so the upward trend continues.

The first tertiary graduates came from what now is RMIT in 1990 with applied science bachelor degrees, taught by committed practitioners and science academics. The professional associations evolved into a single national body and ran the CPD program. Registration was state based, but joint meetings between Boards were established until the National Scheme started.

'On behalf of the Osteopathy Board of Australia, I would like to thank all those early osteopaths for their work and commitment during those pivotal times of gaining registration in our states and territories, and then nationally, and for helping set-up the university courses during those pioneering years of development.'

The osteopathy base of support is primarily from patients. Evidence shows that word of mouth referrals are the source of up to 90 per cent of osteopath consultations, and people often visit an osteopath after previously consulting other professions for their health issues.

This is an evolving situation, as osteopaths have been included in the allied health grouping under Medicare, and the visibility and understanding of the scope and professionalism of osteopaths is growing among the public and other health professions. Osteopaths are also known to have a wide referral network and to work productively in the broader healthcare sector.

The osteopathic profession has benefitted greatly from being part of the national regulatory scheme over the past 14 years, with enhanced national mobility, uniform standards and consistent laws governing their practice.

The Board is proud to celebrate the 45th anniversary of osteopathy regulation in Australia and looks forward to enhancing the growth of the profession for years to come.

Find out more about World Osteopathic Healthcare Week, on Osteopathic International Alliance website.

Page reviewed 15/04/2024