What is a Veterinary Herbalist and How do They Get Their Skills

Have you ever wondered how your herbalist got their skills?


Have they actually trained in animal medicine?


There are any number of forums out there discussing which herb is good for what and how much to use. But, how do you really know you are doing the right thing by your animal? How do you know whether that garlic that someone said on the forum a couple of years ago was good for preventing flies won’t interfere with medications your vet needed to put your animal on due to an injury, or the anaesthetic that is used for your animal’s annual dental work?


Australian Nationally Accredited Qualifications


In the early 90’s, a need for a simplified, nationally regulated qualification structure was identified, resulting in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) being introduced in 1995 by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

The National Training Framework (NTF) was also introduced as a part of the AQF and provides a national level of competency standards, assessment guidelines and qualifications by way of government endorsed Training Packages. Australian industry is an active participant in maintaining the two Frameworks to ensure training meets the standards required by industry.  Legislation makes it a requirement that all AQF vocational education and training qualifications be listed on the National Register, training.gov.au.


The Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine (WHM) was the nationally accredited qualification included in the Health Training Package. The professional entry qualification is now at a Bachelors level and provides graduates with a broad knowledge and skills for the highly skilled work required of a herbalist. The Bachelors provides a pathway to higher education within the AQF, such as post graduate research. Certificates of herbal medicine issued by some businesses are not a part of either of the government accredited Frameworks, nor are they recognised by professional industry bodies.


A graduate of the Advanced Diploma of WHM will have covered a substantial range of herbal medicine (a minimum of 130 herbs) as well as the skills required to operate a herbal dispensary and perform western herbal medicine health assessments for humans. There are 21 units of competency required for award of this qualification. There are only nine registered training organisations approved to deliver this course and accredited with the professional industry body, the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA).


The Graduate Diploma of Veterinary Western Herbal Medicine is the accredited course within the AQF providing advanced knowledge and skills for professional western herbal medicine for animals. The only currently registered training organisation approved nationally to deliver this course is the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies Pty Ltd.


Unfortunately, animal bodywork education is not a feature in the AQF or the NTF.  This means that there is no regulation of animal bodywork courses offered in Australia to determine what are the standards appropriate to the animal bodywork industry, what are the risks inherent in the industry and how quality, accountability and safety for the industry may be maintained.  Additionally, potential clients or bodywork students do not have a means by which they can be assured that the personnel delivering the education have characteristics, principles and skills necessary to ensure the delivery of high-quality services and outcomes, as is a feature of the NTF.


The Australian branch of the International Equine Body Workers Association (IEBWA) bridges that shortfall by only approving education providers that deliver courses that meet a set of defined educational standards.  The IEBWA standards cover all aspects of education, including a minimum number of contact hours, post-course case studies, assessment, professional conduct, and require that members meet the following requirements:


a.      Completion of a minimum of 300 hours of training from a recognised educational provider;

b.      Completion of 32 hours of approved continuing professional education; and

c.       Prior to providing initial bodywork services, communicate with other equine professionals involved in and responsible for the animal’s care.


The people delivering education within IEBWA approved education providers are internationally recognised and tertiary qualified.


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