The Drive for Legitimation in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in Australia: Successes and Dilemmas
This article examines the drive for legitimation on the part of Chinese medicine and more specifically acupuncture in Australia. It examines the development of Chinese medicine in Australia, the road to statutory registration of Chinese medicine in Victoria, and the niche of Chinese medicine within the context of the Australian plural medical system. Despite the opposition of organized medicine, the Victorian Parliament passed the Chinese Medicine Registration Act in May 2000, making Victoria the only Australian political jurisdiction to formally regulate Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists. The legal status of Chinese medicine and acupuncture outside of Victoria resembles that of naturopathy and other natural therapies, such as Western herbalism and homeopathy, none of which has achieved statutory registration in any Australian jurisdiction. Chinese medicine has a distinct identity within the context of the Australian plural medical system. Conversely, acupuncture, as one of the modalities of Chinese medicine—and in Western societies its principal modality—has been incorporated into various other heterodox medical subsystems, particularly chiropractic, osteopathy, and naturopathy, as well as conventional systems, such as biomedicine and physiotherapy.