Complementary Medicine Industry in Australia

Complementary Medicine in Australia is a fast growing industry providing new health services and occupational opportunities to significant numbers of Australians every year. Australian statistics are reflective of a world wide trend to significant growth in the use of Complementary Medicine either replacing or working in conjunction with Western medicine. Statistics prepared by National Institute of Complementary Medicine show:


  • 2 in 3 Australians use CM each year.
  • Almost 4 times more spent on CM (in out of pocket expenses) than on pharmaceuticals.


  • Australian industry valued at $1.5B-$2.5B pa (excluding education, health insurance)
  • Global market for herbal remedies alone estimated at $83B (excluding soy, algae & fibre).

Market growth 3-12% pa (depending on the segment)

Complementary Medicine (CM) is an inclusive term that incorporates Complementary Medicines and Complementary Therapies (Modalities / Systems). The term complementary medicine is considered to be inclusive of historically used names such as alternative medicine, natural medicine and traditional medicine. CM is concerned with both the maintenance of wellness and the treatment of illness.

CM includes a diverse range of medicines and therapies that are not considered to be core conventional medicine practices or core conventional allied health practices. Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by registered medical practitioners and by a range of allied health professionals who support conventional medical practice and include physiotherapists, psychologists and registered nurses.

A growing number of health care providers integrate both complementary and conventional medicine (integrative medicine) and there is a growing intersection between conventional and complementary medicine practices.  A growing number of Complementary Medicine therapies are routinely subsidized by major health funds.

The CM industry covers a wide range of approaches which may broadly be separated into : Mind Body Medicine; Biological Practices; Manipulative and Body Based Practices. As well there are whole medical systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayuverdic Medicine.

The industry is based around a high number of individual practitioners whilst also supporting research and teaching professionals together with health care professionals working alongside western medicine practitioners.

The range of practitioner occupations is very wide, covering Mind Body Medicine , Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Counselling, Kinesiology, Massage, TCM, Art Therapy, Acupuncture, Nutrition, and Diploma of Sports Therapy and Kinesiology.

Many practitioners enjoy the benefits of a flexible self-employed lifestyle in addition to the satisfaction of a helping purpose and above average remuneration.

Most people employed in the industry are required to have attained industry accepted qualifications for the segment in which they will be employed. Qualifications range from entrance level Certificate IV in some segments to diploma, degree and post graduate qualifications in others. Educational institutions offering CM qualifications range from single strand colleges to universities. Some courses require work placement as part of training,. Other courses provide opportunity for clinical practice whilst continuing study after reaching minimum levels of qualification.

Entry into the industry is usually made by going into clinical practice after attainment of appropriate qualification.

Being largely practitioner based the industry tends to be represented wherever there are clusters of clients- from small towns to large cities. Training and research based roles tend to only be available in larger population centres, although most cities have a significant number of training institutions.

If you want to know more about the industry and related training courses, you can visit Complementary College of Medicine website or follow our Facebook.