Massage & Myotherapy Australia is calling on the new Federal Minister for Immigration, the Hon Andrew Giles MP to consult the massage sector before opening the immigration flood gates again.
‘While we welcome the National Cabinets recent shared commitment to urgently address skills shortages, the skilled migration program has never addressed the skills shortages in the massage sector but rather enabled an influx and oversupply of poorly trained therapists who have qualifications well below those required in Australia ,’ Ann Davey, CEO Massage & Myotherapy Australia said.
Unfortunately, the education and training of skilled massage workers accepted through the Skilled Migration visa program including Temporary Skill Shortage visas fall well below the standards and needs of Australia’s professional remedial massage sector, health sector or people with health conditions who depend on massage therapy. This includes:
- The Certificate of Equivalency does not provide an accurate indication of the quality or level of massage training undertaken by migrants or meet current OHS/WHS legislation requirements.
- While promoted as a Remedial Massage qualification, and being eligible for a Qualification Award Certificate, training provided by some Registered Training Organizations (RTOs) who sponsor migrants appears to be inadequate and does not prepare migrant students to work in a professional Australian setting, or alongside Allied Health or Medical practitioners as part of an integrated clinic.
- Many approved skilled migrants attempting to join a professional association have displayed very poor English skills which makes them extremely unsuitable to work in professional remedial massage or health care settings. For example, migrant therapists display:
- an inability to keep accurate and meaningful client notes in English as required
- poor understanding of human physiology
- very limited understanding of the National Code of Conduct for Unregistered Healthcare Workers
- poor understanding of the Australian Private Health Insurance system and rules associated with the Private Health Insurance Rebate
- poor understanding of the Australian health system to identify how to best support patient outcomes.
‘There is an urgent need to review the migration program for massage therapists, and finally put an end to the significant, decades long problems which this program is causing for Australia’s massage sector. Mrs Davey said,
‘Such poor skills fueled misunderstanding and confusion among consumers, regulators, and the wider health sector, about what constitutes professional massage therapy.
Consequently, there is no clear delineation that defines the competencies and qualifications of professional, qualified therapists who work in the healthcare sector, compared to the spa style and quasi massage shops that are now prevalent across Australia.
‘As a result, Australia’s migration and visa policy undervalues the skills of professional massage therapists who are trained in accordance with the National Qualifications Framework, have committed to gaining Australian qualifications and competencies in remedial massage therapy or myotherapy in order to meet the required standards. ‘
During the past 10 years, there has been substantial progress in the professional development of the massage sector to bring it more closely in line with the professional expectations and standards of Allied Health Professionals and Registered Medical Practitioners.
‘The TSS has not kept pace with these changes, the higher standards of the sector, or the urgent need to address the negative issues that continue to devalue the professional development of the sector.’
‘The National Skills Commission must reassess labor market requirements in the remedial massage sector; and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment must review the skills required in the remedial massage sector before visas for massage therapists are opened again.
‘If the reforms cannot be achieved, removal of massage therapists from the skilled migration list should occur immediately, until it is evident that skilled migration of massage therapists benefits Australia’s massage sector, health sector and the community,’ Mrs Davey said.
Massage & Myotherapy Australia is the sector’s leader and the driving force towards evidenced-based massage and myotherapy services.
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