Prior to the creation of the VET health training package, the current national framework governing the diploma of remedial massage, Remedial Massage courses could essentially contain whatever content a college chose to teach. In many cases these courses were near university standard, 2 year courses. Most contained a high level of training and professionalism and covered a large field of manual medicine. The VET health training package formalised the curriculum to be taught in Remedial Massage courses. This contributed to widespread acceptance of Remedial Massage as a profession across Australia.
The Emergence of Unethical RTO’s
Unfortunately, this also attracted a number of unethical RTOs (registered training organisations) into the market who looked at Remedial Massage training primarily as a business opportunity. They had little consideration for the ethical standards, and in turn quality, of their diploma training.
The VET training package allows a considerable amount of flexibility and many RTO’s took advantage of this flexibility, reducing the number of contact hours and assessment to a bare minimum. Such abuse of the system lead to an influx of poorly trained therapists into the profession. In fact in some cases, RTO’s were fraudulent in what they claimed they actually delivered, with one RTO that I know of being prosecuted in court (I won’t mention any names of course).
Medibank Private Review
This influx in part prompted the Medibank review of the Remedial Massage profession, discussed in detail in my previous blog post here. Part of their review found a number of Remedial Massage Providers were operating fraudulently, specifically the fraudulent use of provider status (see AMT news for more details on this).
The review saw Medibank put a freeze on the provision of new practitioner applications and subsequently implement new standards for graduates to receive registration. While this has been a step in the right direction for the industry as a whole, it has created many headaches for ethical RTOs, graduates and practitioners. Not the mention the unsuspecting public.
I have heard anecdotally that GP’s were informed by the AMA of the dangers of poorly trained massage therapists, particularly the ‘chain’ massage providers within major shopping centres. There is little doubt that poorly trained therapists who ‘graduated’ from these unethical colleges are a significant threat to the Remedial Massage profession.
The New Reality
Whether Medibank Private’s actions will have the desired effect on the industry and see a reduction of unethical practices is difficult to say. However, its leadership will hopefully be followed by other health funds, and is certainly pushing the industry towards a higher level of professionalism. Additionally, there are currently two ongoing governmental reviews that will see major changes in direction for the non-registered health professions in Australia (see AMT link above). It is interesting times and it is important that as practitioners we all consider where we sit sit at the end of the day.