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Complementary Health IRC

The qualifications for this sector were reviewed in 2015. They are in the HLT Health Training Package, which was endorsed in August 2015.

“Complementary” refers to treatments that are used with conventional medicine; alternative treatments are a substitute for conventional medicine.

In 2012 there were 8,000 complementary health therapists1. The majority work in small businesses or as sole traders.

Industry Overview

Therapists in the industry treat patients with physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs by considering the whole person rather than focusing on specific symptoms. They use various therapies, techniques and practices.


The sub-sectors and occupations included in the HLT Training Package are:


Aromatherapy uses essential oils as a therapeutic measure to treat a variety of conditions. Its practitioners work in settings ranging from spas to nursing homes.

Clinical aromatherapist: Provides therapeutic treatments for a range of health issues. Practitioners may be self-employed or may work within a larger health service.


Ayurvedic treatment focuses on finding the root cause of an ailment and eliminating it using individualised treatment plans that heal through internal cleansing, diet, herbs, exercise and meditation.

Ayurveda therapist or practitioner: Possesses well developed cognitive and communication skills plus specialised knowledge of ayurvedic medicine. They provide ayurvedic therapeutic and remedial treatments including ayurvedic herbal medicine, ayurvedic massage and ayurvedic nutrition advice.

Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant: Provides advice, selected remedies and therapies according to to Ayurvedic principles. People working at this level may be self-employed independent practitioners or work in a larger health service.

Traditional Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, wellness is achieved through the use of heat, moisture and herbs to ensure the correct distribution of energy through the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine remedial massage therapist or practitioner: Provides therapeutic remedial massages according to the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) remedial massage framework. Practitioners may be self-employed as independent practitioners or work in a larger health service.


Kinesiology entails studying the mechanics and anatomy of the human body.

Kinesiologist: Manages, rehabilitates and prevents disorders that hinder movement by monitoring muscle movement and applying healing techniques to alleviate muscle ailments.


Massage therapy involves applying pressure with the hands to relieve tension, improve circulation, alleviate soreness and improve flexibility. Massage therapists work in a wide range of settings, including aged care facilities, palliative care centres, hospitals and spa clinics.

Massage is an increasingly common method of pain relief for people who are frail or ill.

Massage therapist: Provide general health maintenance treatments. They possess skills in therapeutic relaxation massage including basic health assessment and treatment.

Remedial massage therapist: Works with clients presenting with soft tissue dysfunction, musculoskeletal imbalance or restrictions in range of motion (ROM). Practitioners may be self-employed or work within a larger health service.


Reflexologist: Promotes healing by applying pressure to points on the feet, hands, face and ears that correspond to other structures and organs in the body.


Shiatsu therapist or practitioner: Practises shiatsu, a Japanese manipulative therapy incorporating Japanese traditional massage, Western massage, acupressure and stretching. Pressure is applied to special points or areas on the body in order to maintain physical and mental wellbeing, treat disease or alleviate discomfort.


The VET qualifications that cater to this sector are:

HLT42015 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy
HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage
HLT52115 Diploma of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Remedial Massage
HLT52215 Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies
HLT52315 Diploma of Clinical Aromatherapy
HLT52415 Diploma of Kinesiology
HLT52515 Diploma of Reflexology
HLT52615 Diploma of Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation.

Links to view and download the content for each of these qualifications may be found in our Training Packages section.

Complementary Health IRC Industry Skills Forecast

On 30th September 2016, IRCs submitted their initial four-year workplans to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration. These workplans were developed incorporating information sourced in a variety of ways, including meetings and consultations with stakeholders, desktop research, an industry workforce survey open to all stakeholders, across all industries for a five-week period and consultation with IRC members and their stakeholder networks.

In April 2017, these workplans were refreshed, retitled as Industry Skills Forecasts and again submitted to the AISC. An IRC’s Industry Skills Forecast provides an overview of the sector and the current challenges and opportunities it faces, along with an analysis of current and projected employment and workforce skills needs. It proposes a schedule for the ongoing review of relevant training package products to inform the AISC’s development of the four-year rolling National Schedule.

It is noted that this Industry Skills Forecast has been developed and signed off by this IRC, but the final decision with regard to the scheduling of training product development rests with the AISC, once it has reviewed the submitted Industry Skills Forecasts of all 60 plus IRCs across the various sectors of Australian Industry. The confirmed National Schedule is published on the AISC website once approved.

CLICK HERE to download the Complementary Health IRC Industry Skills Forecast.

1 CS&HISC Environmental Scan 2015