Protect University Education in Natural Medicine
  • Petitioned Professor Kerry O. Cox

This petition was delivered to:

Vice-Chancellor of Edith Cowan University
Professor Kerry O. Cox
Swinburne University of Technology
Professor Linda Kristjanson
Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University
Professor Margaret Gardner
Vice-Chancellor of Monash University
Professor Ed Byrne
Vice-Chancellor of ACU
Professor Greg Craven
Vice-Chancellor of Central Queensland University
Professor Scott Bowman
Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University
Professor Andrew Vann
Vice-Chancellor of University of Western Sydney
Professor Janice Reid
Vice-Chancellor of University of Wollongong
Professor Paul Wellings
Vice-Chancellor of University of Technology Sydney
Professor Ross Milbourne
Vice-Chancellor of University of Queensland
Professor Deborah Terry
University of Newcastle
Professor Caroline McMillen
Vice-Chancellor of University of New England
Professor Jim Barber
Vice-Chancellor of University of Ballarat
Professor David Battersby
Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University
Professor Steven Schwartz

Protect University Education in Natural Medicine

    1. Rachel McDonald
    2. Petition by

      Rachel McDonald

      Oonoonba, Australia

University education currently provides one important source of training for Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners. These courses are renowned for their ability to create research literate practitioners who are able to provide high quality evidence-based therapies to the public and therefore work effectively in the health field.  They also encourage students with an interest in research to continue along that path, adding a unique viewpoint to the scientific community and enhancing the development of the knowledge base. In addition, University education adds to the ability of Complementary and Alternative Medicine to continue its vital role in contributing to the improvement of local and global health outcomes in an integrated manner. While we highly respect the scientific abilities of the leading members of Friends of Science in Medicine and their right to contribute to healthy debate, we feel they are misinformed about the nature of university studies in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  As such, we are concerned at their request to disband these courses. We ask that the Vice-Chancellors make a public statement pledging to protect the high quality and science based courses in Complementary and Alternative Medicine that they currently offer.    

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 7,000 signatures
    2. Murdoch University CAM courses - Murdoch off Petition

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      Murdoch VC Professor Higgott has confirmed that he supports the position as stated in the New York Times regarding current courses in CAM offered at Murdoch University. Here is an excerpt from the article:

      'Murdoch University, in Perth, said it was committed to the promotion of research-led teaching and evidence-based practice across all disciplines, and that its School of Chiropractic and Sports Science was "established to be consistent with that approach." "Students are taught the science-practitioner model and our aim is to produce graduates who are critical thinkers," the university said in a statement. "This enables them to distinguish between fad and genuine innovation in the discipline as practitioners, intelligent consumers of research and promoters of the scientific method." '

      NY Tmes Article - Feb 5 2012

    3. Reached 6,000 signatures
    4. Strong support from Academics - but where are the Vice Chancellors?

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      A recent article in the NY times has some wonderful words of support for natural medicine courses in Australia from academics involved in the courses (6th Feb 2012). Representatives from CSU, Murdoch University and Macquarie University came out in defence of their courses. However the quote from Macquarie University is not attributable to the Vice Chancellor (via email 9/2/12), and comments from Charles Sturt University are from the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Nick Klomp. I have been advised that CSU will not be making any further comment at this stage, although "The University is entirely satisfied with the current operation of the Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine)."

      While these are wonderful statements, for which I am sure we are all grateful, I do not believe they meet the terms as set forth in the petition.

      I am awaiting a final confirmation of whether the Murdoch University statement is fully supported by the Vice Chancellor.

    5. Reached 5,000 signatures
    6. VICTORY - A Media Release from Southern Cross University

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      A combined response has been issued from Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee and Dean of Health and Head of the School of Health and Human Sciences Professor Iain Graham to the recent requests and attacks by Friends of Science in Medicine.

      Excerpts from release:

      “The rigour of our teaching, the qualifications of our staff and the quality of our graduates are the best defence against such generalised condemnation of a field in which we have set the highest standards,” Professor Lee said.

      “The Australian public are actively seeking these types of treatments, therefore we take seriously our commitment to provide appropriate education in areas of real community need.
      Of course you need evidence, both empirical and experience, to justify any practices and we welcome any scrutiny of education practices,” Professor Graham said.

      Media enquiries should be directed to: Brigid Veale, Southern Cross University, details at link

      Full media release at link as well.

    7. Petition Target will be extended

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      If 4000 signatures are reached, we will extend the target number of signatures. Please continue to forward this to other people you feel may support it.

    8. Reached 3,000 signatures
    9. In the News

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      Southern Cross University is in the process of drafting a response to the claims of Friends of Science in Medicine. Thank you to the Northern Star and reporter Jem Wilson for covering the story. Thank you to Professor Iain Graham from SCU for his comments on our behalf. Thank you also to all the academics who have come forth and supported this petition, as well as everyone else. (On a personal note, come on CSU VC!)

    10. Reached 2,500 signatures
    11. Petition mention in The Australian

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you to Stephen Matchett and The Australian for drawing attention to this petition. The article is entitled "Push to keep alternative medicine in universities" and was published online on Feb 2nd 2012.

    12. Reached 2,000 signatures
    13. Why is this a time sensitive issue?

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      It has come to my attention that people aren't sure why I am targeting the university. There is a meeting of Vice-Chancellors to discuss these courses being held in March. FSM want them to change the courses at that meeting. We need the Vice-Chancellors to publicly pledge to protect our courses before they go into it

      "The groundswell of protest from medical professionals comes after a decision in Britain that means from this year it will no longer be possible to receive a degree from a publicly-funded university in areas of alternative medicine, including homeopathy and naturopathy

      Australia's vice-chancellors will meet in March and Professor Dwyer said his group was aiming to get a commitment from them to endorse health courses only with evidence-based science"

      From Sydney Morning Herald

    14. Reached 1,500 signatures
    15. Support is Growing

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      I am grateful to Professor Kerryn Phelps and Senator Hanson-Young for supporting my petition via twitter. We're growing quickly, however we still need more help. Please keep the momentum going and keep an eye out for responses. Thanks

    16. Over 1000 signatures

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you all for your support. I am doing my best to monitor for responses from the Universities, but as one person it can be challenging. Given that we understand the Vice-Chancellors are incredibly busy at this time of year, please feel free to send to me any media statements that I may have missed. One quarter of the way there - please keep spreading the word. Thanks

    17. Reached 1,000 signatures
    18. Gathering Momentum

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you all for your support. We have cleared 500 signatures which is a wonderful milestone. Yet we still need more. 4000 is a very achievable target given the number of wonderful people involved in the industry worldwide. Please spread the word - Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and through your blogs. Let us have our voice clearly heard. Thanks again

    19. Reached 500 signatures
    20. Vice-Chancellor List

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      I have completed the list of what I think are the relevant Vice-Chancellors. Could you please tell me if you think of any more who should be added to the list?


    21. Reached 100 signatures
    22. Developing the Petition

      Rachel McDonald
      Petition Organizer

      I am still developing the list of Vice-Chancellors involved and tracking down contact information. It is quite a list, as I'm sure you can imagine. Thanks for your support at this early stage

    23. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Elizabeth Shannon MANLY, AUSTRALIA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Drug companies have a place, but all too often now people are looking for a quick fix in the form of a pill or tablet (etc) instead of good nutrition, exercise and common sense lifestyle. There seems to be a growing trend that exercise and nutritious food is now regarded as "alternative" and not real medicine. Hello.

    • Deborah Swann AUSTRALIA
      • almost 2 years ago

      As a Naturopath I see the incredible health benefits of natural medicine to treat both symptoms and work preventatively

      • about 2 years ago

      because the suites want controll

    • Ginger Hansen MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
      • about 2 years ago

      As a student currently studying Osteopathy, I feel strongly about continuing the training I am already benefiting from.

      It is important in any inquiry to have many differing points of view to ensure that a fair and accurate picture of the situation is being portrayed. In this, I think CAMs offer unique and very valuable sources of information and perspective. If we remove these sources we restrict knowledge and understanding of human health and the way the human body reacts to external stimuli. Loss of information can never be a good thing regardless of how valid one may think that information to be at the time - the human body is incredibly complex and we'll need all the help we can get to put together all the pieces.

      Keep it up guys!

    • Katherine Punton SHELBORNE, AUSTRALIA
      • about 2 years ago

      It isnt an issue for me but it oviously is for the people that don't know anything about natural medicine.


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