Overview – What is Certification?

Government Involvement and Support

Stakeholder Involvement and Support

Insurance Health Funds

Training and Career Paths

Process and Certification

Benefits for Business

Monitoring and Compliance

Promotions and Member Support

Massage & Myotherapy Australia will update this page often and appreciates member’s feedback, check back often to ensure you receive the most up to date information – 3 August 2016

Overview – What is Certification?

Certification provides a universal, formal roadmap for the massage and myotherapy profession by describing the competencies, skills, qualifications and professional pathways for therapists. It will support the growth of the profession and the professional development of massage therapists.

What is Massage & Myotherapy certification?

Certification is a professional framework for consistent and reliable national Best Practice Standard (BPS) and Quality Assurance (QA) for the Australian massage and myotherapy industry.
What is involved in creating the Certification scheme?
Certification requires a universal description of the skills, qualifications, and professional pathways for therapists.

What does Certification provide?

Certification provides:

  • Formal recognition of compliance with an industry Code of Ethics; conformity to a Best Practice Standard; and recognition of appropriate qualifications and skills pertaining to specific modalities of massage.
  • A transparent, consistent process of auditing and collecting industry data.
  • Protection of practice for Certified therapists through international copyright and trademarking of the scheme.
  • A facility to harness the diversity and creativity of therapists, and map the professional competencies, skills, and qualifications available to the health sector and patients.

Why is Massage & Myotherapy offering Certification?

Massage & Myotherapy has undertaken this initiative to enable the massage sector to support the growth and development of therapists and the profession.

Why should Massage & Myotherapy take this on?

A robust scheme requires the input of specialised legal counsel, IP lawyers and industry experts. Association resources are always limited and by taking a leadership role, AAMT (Massage & Myotherapy) can:

  • Assist all associations achieve the goal of consistent quality assurance;
  • Reduce and simplify the number of massage and myotherapy quality assurance systems into one universally recognised system.

What will a universal quality assurance scheme achieve for massage and myotherapists?

The scheme will address the inconsistency of governance issues across associations and:

  • Assist other massage and myotherapy associations with resources to achieve a consistent high standard of quality assurance for their members, despite limited resources.
  • Create a nationally-recognised high quality assurance program that all associations, therapists and consumers can understand and access.
  • Facilitate greater levels of collaboration on industry-wide issues;
  • Create a universal, independent and transparent standard for the sector.

How will the Certification scheme help to develop the sector?

Certification will improve the professionalism of qualified therapists by:

  • Creating a hierarchy of training and qualifications for professional development;
  • Creating employment training opportunities relevant to market needs;
  • Enabling graduates, and existing therapists to continue their professional development;
  • Ensuring therapists can provide services that respond to changing patient/market needs and requirements;
  • Creating a focus for clinical research relevant to specific modalities health policy, healthcare needs and thereby help to develop massage services that command recognition for their clinical efficacy.

Government involvement and support

Self-regulation is the Governments preferred model and less Government involvement is likely to continue. It is extremely unlikely that any Government will make Certification a requirement under legislation until the sector has proved its ability to effectively manage and run the scheme itself.

Why can’t the Government just regulate and make it mandatory?

Self-regulation is the preferred model by Government and less involvement is likely to continue. This is evidenced by:

  • Massage and myotherapy treatment does not pose a risk to public as a practice.
  • No conclusive direction from the Government PHIR Review in regard to rebates.
  • Exclusion of massage from the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) in the recent review.
  • The reactive nature of the National Code of Conduct for Health Workers which is unlikely to redress the loopholes that enable unscrupulous therapists to operate below the radar of current legislation and self-regulation.

What involvement, if any, will Governments have in the scheme?

Governments set operating rules through guidelines and recognising standards based on industry requirements and public risk:

  • The new national framework for the VET sector and the introduction of the eight Skills Service Organisations (SSOs), tightens up abuse of the VET system and is the extent of Government involvement in quality assurance.
  • The Accreditation scheme supports and capitalises on the VET and higher education operating rules set by Governments.

On what grounds will Government get involved?

Each State and Territory Health Minister has been asked to support the scheme. Government involvement requires establishing clearly defined levels of:

  • Clinical efficacy;
  • Patient risk;
  • Economic value;
  • Health care and recovery efficiency;
  • Improved long term patient and community benefit.

Massage & Myotherapy Australia is working to establish evidence to support a case for all of these.

Stakeholder involvement and support

Certification brings massage and myotherapy in line with schemes adopted by doctors, dentists, nurses and allied health professionals that have developed universal, formal roadmaps of their profession and their competencies. AAMT (Massage & Myotherapy Australia) has approached, and is working with, a number of key stakeholders to recognise and adopt the Certification scheme.

Have other health sectors introduced Certification schemes?

Yes, doctors, dentists, nurses and allied health professionals have developed universal, formal roadmaps of their profession and its competencies. In this professional health environment, Certification will help to achieve recognition that more formally acknowledges massage and myotherapy as legitimate health services by these sectors.

Are stakeholders that have an interest in massage supporting Certification?

AAMT (Massage & Myotherapy Australia) has approached a number of key stakeholders to recognise and adopt the Certification scheme. These include:

  • State and Federal Health Care Commissions and Ombudsmen.
  • Allied Health Associations.
  • massage and myotherapy Multi-Modality Associations.
  • State and Territory Police.
  • Department of Public Prosecutions, and Government judiciaries.
  • Private Health Insurers and the Private Health Association.

Are other massage associations going to be involved or included?

Yes – All have been invited and we are currently setting up formal meetings with those interested Associations.All Associations are welcome.

How will the scheme evolve?

It is envisaged that in the coming years collaborative arrangements can be built on to make the standard fully responsive to the needs of industry and stakeholders involved.This could include a Standards Council selected from involved Associations and Private Health Insurers with a full review of the Standard with the goal of Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand certification (JAS/ANZ).

Private Health Funds

Massage & Myotherapy Australia is in discussion with the Private Health Funds about adopting and supporting the Scheme. Massage & Myotherapy is seeking to demonstrate that the scheme will help to manage their risk exposure and policyholder benefits.

Why haven’t the Health Funds led this scheme?

The first priority of health funds is to manage their risk exposure and policyholder benefits, not tell sectors how to operate. Because of abuse of the rebate scheme, health funds have moved to reduce their exposure to fraud in the sector. To achieve Approved Provider Status Fund are:

  • Determining qualifications outside the National Training Scheme (NTS).
  • Requiring greater levels of monitoring of qualifications and members by Associations.

Will Certification affect Health Fund coverage of massage and myotherapy?

Possibly – It is hoped that Certification will continue to maintain and build on the relationship and the current standing with Health Funds and therapists, which has been eroded by the fraudulent activities of some therapists. Certification is designed to help:

  • Increase the confidence of Private Health Insurers (PHIs) that the sector can take responsibility for and provide a reliable quality assurance system.
  • Provide a reliable process for Health Funds to vet therapists for eligibility as health providers instead of each fund developing their own scheme.

Can the Certification scheme simplify the process for Approved Provider Status with a Health Fund?

Yes – The scheme benchmarks a path for professional associations to collaborate with PHIs to achieve mutually beneficial goals. It will:

  • Increase the quality assurance of Providers who service PHI members;
  • Increase opportunities for PHIs to continue to offer rebates while maintaining a low risk of fraud and abuse of the system;
  • Provide an opportunity for PHIs to differentiate their product offerings, by using Certified therapists.
  • Indentify Association ‘hoppers’ who switch Associations due to lost Approved Provider Status.

Training and Career Paths

The Quality Assurance Standards offered by Certification detail a formal scheme and hierarchy of classification of knowledge, skills, procedures, and applications of massage required to provide effective massage treatments for a given condition.

Will the scheme improve education and training pathways?

Yes – Certification capitalises on the new improved training requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and new legislation introduced by the Federal Government during 2015, which regulates qualifications in Australia.

  • All professional training courses run by Universities, TAFEs and Registered Training Organisations must comply with the AQF and ensure graduates achieve the level deemed necessary to achieve competency.

The Certification process will assist industry identify gaps in the training of therapists.

Will the scheme improve career paths?

Yes – The Quality Assurance offered by Certification closes the education loop for qualified therapists by:

  • Detailing a formal scheme of classification of knowledge, skills, procedures, and applications of massage and myotherapy that is required to provide effective treatments for a given condition.
  • Creating more formal employment opportunities for massage businesses and individual therapists within the health sector.
  • Improving the skills and relevance of massage therapists to other health professions by certifying therapists in a process that is educative, measureable and auditable.

Will Certification help to improve recognition/referrals to therapists by medical and allied health professionals?

Potentially – Certification will improve the standing of professional therapists among Government, regulators and within the medical profession. Certification will:

  • Offer a formal system of practice similar to the ‘Title of Practice’ because the term ‘Certified’ is Trademarked.
  • Increase confidence in the massage sector’s quality assurance.
  • Facilitate more integration into mainstream health as confidence builds in the skills, professionalism and health benefits provided by Certified therapists.
  • Provide a source of reliable referrals for GPs and Allied Health professionals.
  • Encourage inclusion in Primary Care Networks and the Healthcare Homes initiatives.

Process to Certification

Around 85 per cent of Massage & Myotherapy Australia members already have the qualifications to become Certified specialists. Therapists from all Associations will be able to apply and complete the process of Certification.

As a member, am I already Certified?

No – however, around 85 per cent of Massage & Myotherapy members already have the qualifications, knowledge and quality assurance to complete all or part of the Certification process.

Do I need to change or update my qualifications?

No – Your current qualification will continue to be recognised and your membership with the Association will remain. Massage & Myotherapy will:

  • Recognise the qualifications of all members who have met Membership criteria and will include them in the scheme as they meet the Standard.
  • Recognise the specialised modalities, which will underpin specific eligibility criteria.

Pre-HLT qualification holders

Any current member who is already recognised with a current Health Fund as an Approved Provider and is compliant with their membership requirements is considered eligible to participate in the Certification scheme. There is no current requirement for members who hold qualifications prior to the HLT training package to upgrade in order to participate in the scheme. As other Associations enter the scheme. It is likely the same consideration will apply to their members.

What current qualifications are included in Certification?

Certified Specialists in Remedial massage and/or myotherapy must hold one of the following AQF levels, as evidence of their competency and achievement:

  • AQF5 – HLT50302, HLT50307, HLT52015
  • AQF6 – Advanced Diplomas and Associate Degrees
  • AQF7 Bachelors (e.g. Bachelor of Health Sciences (Musculoskeletal Therapy)
  • AQF8 and above – Honours, Masters, and Doctoral degrees.

This also includes Clinical myotherapist, Sports massage Therapist, Soft Tissue Therapist, and Musculoskeletal Therapist.

Do I have to be a member of Massage & Myotherapy Australia to be certified?

No – You do not need to be a member of Massage & Myotherapy Australia in order to become Certified.

  • Massage & Myotherapy Austraia will offer to license the Standard to other industry associations.
  • Other Associations will also be able to arrange for their members to be Certified as compliant with the Standard independently.

Is the scheme mandatory?

No – Not at this stage.

  • A grandfathering period is being considered and will allow any therapist who would like to enter the scheme time to do so.
  • When the volume of providers in the market is sufficient to service demand, it is anticipated that the scheme will become mandatory as this increases the level of quality assurance and protection for public.

Do I have to change the services I offer?

No – Certification in itself does not require you to change what you are doing. If you are not Certified you will not be able to use the recognised trademarks under the scheme.

What will be trademarked as a certified modality

As an example the following modality titles below are only protected when used in conjuction with the term “Certified”, for example “certified remedial massage therapist” or “certified myotherapist”

  • Remedial massage Therapist
  • Myotherapist
  • Clinical myotherapist
  • Soft Tissue Therapist
  • Musculoskeletal Therapist
  • Sports Massage Therapist
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Neuromuscular Therapist
  • Oncology Therapist
  • Pregnancy and Maternal Care Therapist
  • Infant Care Therapist
  • Thai Therapist
  • Shiatsu
  • Chinese Therapist
  • Structural Specialist.

These titles are currently being refined based on industry input.

How do I become Certified to practice the Specialist Modalities?

It will be necessary for therapists to have the required skills and knowledge to fulfil specific criteria to achieve Certification as a Specialist Therapist or in a specialised modality. Massage & Myotherapy Australia will be consulting with specialist groups to gain genuine benchmarks.

Benefits for Business

Certification stands to distinguish your business from other services. Certification will recognise and promote your higher qualifications, quality assurance and levels of competency in the specialist services you offer.

Will Certification help to grow my business?

Yes – providing you use and promote your Certification appropriately and in accordance with the rules governing their use.

How will Certification help to grow my business?

Certification will improve the professionalism and standing of massage and myotherapy businesses by:

  • Improving the trust relationship you have with clients and the health sector.
  • Increasing quality assurance for consumers, regulators, educators and stakeholders.
  • Maintaining greater confidence and trust with PHIs.
  • Distinguishing your best practice levels from other therapists.
  • Allowing the professional associations to promote quality assurance to the public with confidence.

How do the benefits for consumers help my business?

Certification enables consumers to make informed decisions about the quality and competency of therapists.This will encourage participation in the health care system as awareness of professionally-certified therapists grows and creates a demand.

What information does Certification provide consumers?

Certification will allow consumers to:

  • Easily identify who is qualified to deliver specific services.
  • Choose nationally qualified therapists with recognised specialised training in remedial, myotherapy and related massage therapy services that are relevant to their needs.
  • Reduce confusion around what constitutes appropriate massage qualifications and training.
  • More clearly differentiate formal massage services from pseudo massage services.

Monitoring and Compliance

AAMT (Massage & Myotherapy Australia) will protect the integrity of the Certification Mark by enforcing its intellectual property right and taking legal action against any person or business that uses the Massage & Myotherapy Australia Certification Mark without the authority of the Association. 

How will Massage & Myotherapy Australia monitor and enforce compliance with the Certification scheme?

AAMT (Massage & Myotherapy Australia) will protect the trademarked certification specialities by enforcing its intellectual property rights and seek damages against any uncertified therapists who promotes themselves as Certified or able to practice the Trademarked modalities without the required skills and knowledge to fulfil specific criteria.

  • Massage & Myotherapy Australia will audit members regularly, both by paper evidence and physical evidence in clinics.
  • Auditors will be trained specifically in auditing and be drawn from the massage and myotherapy sector.

Can I contribute to auditing and protecting the scheme?

Yes – Certified therapists are expected to contribute voluntarily to reporting to the Association any therapists that they suspect are using the trademarked modalities to promote their services.

What’s to stop any therapist from using the same terminology?

Persons in breach of Trademarked Certified Titles of Practice are open to legal action:

  • Certification entitles massage therapists to use the Trademark name and promote services in modalities for which they have the required qualification and certification.
  • Massage & Myotherapy Australia will investigate and, where appropriate, instigate legal action to pursue individuals in breach of any trademarked obligations.
  • Massage & Myotherapy Australia will monitor the use of the certified trademark and members are expected to assist in maintaining quality by advising the Association of any concerns they see.

Promotions and Member Support

Massage & Myotherapy Australia will promote the Certification and Trademarked certified titles widely to consumers, regulators and the medical profession. Success of the scheme is in your hands. Wide adoption and promotion by Massage & Myotherapy members will play a vital role in building understanding and recognition for the higher Best Practice Standards and Quality Assurance.

How will Massage & Myotherapy Australia support Certification so people come to me rather than the competition?

Massage & Myotherapy Australia will promote the Certification and certified titles widely to consumers, regulators and the medical profession. This includes:

  • Promoting membership and Quality Assurance for Certified therapists.
  • Increasing public awareness of the benefit of choosing Certified members.
  • Differentiating the professionalism and qualifications of members and other massage professionals.
  • Highlighting specialist therapists for the health sector through the Australian massage Directory.
  • Building demand for qualified therapists, with specific training and skills that help to address specific health conditions.

How can I help to promote the scheme?

Members should become certified and promote their specialist skills as soon as possible in order to build recognition of Certified Massage Therapists rapidly. This should:

  • Provide a competitive advantage for Certified specialists.
  • Help consumers make informed decisions and seek Certified specialists.

How will my participation help the Association and the massage sector?

Your participation will help to:

  • Build recognition through State and Territory Health Ombudsmen to assist informing the public about safety and quality.
  • Provide an opportunity for other health sectors to employ quality assured therapists.
  • Strengthen confidence with Health Funds and encourage Certification as a requirement of Approved Provider Status.
  • Help Massage & Myotherapy Australia to redress regulations that do not recognise highly qualified massage therapists, such as Veterans Affairs.

What real advantage is there when everyone can still promote and perform any modality?

It is in your hands. Wide adoption and promotion by Massage & Myotherapy Australia members will play a vital role in building understanding and recognition for the higher Best Practice Standards and Quality Assurance.