Support Shiatsu - Restore rebates & fair healthcare choice

Support Shiatsu - Restore rebates & fair healthcare choice

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Since 1 April 2019 private health funds rebates are no longer available for 16 natural therapies, including shiatsu. The federal government's decision to do this was based on a flawed 2015 government health review.

The review:

  • disrespects the 55% of Australians who use complementary therapies
  • overestimates the value of less than 1% savings for health funds — the rebate paid for the 16 therapies is only a small fraction of the overall rebate budget
  • restricts shiatsu clients, who are privately insured, a choice in their healthcare
  • disregards experience and testimonials of shiatsu practitioners and clients who have benefitted from shiatsu in Australia in the past 40 years, and the Japanese Government that officially recognises shiatsu as a therapy
  • threatens the livelihood of more than 25,000 small business natural therapy practitioners nationwide, and registered training organisations
  • denigrates the standing of shiatsu as a therapy to potential clients


The decision to cut natural therapy rebates:

  • denies Australians the right to choose treatment options 
  • imposes higher treatment costs for members with private health insurance
  • ignores the long-term effect of demoting preventative treatments
  • puts more pressure on an overburdened hospital system
  • removes a key incentive for practitioners to comply with professional requirements currently audited by health funds

The review was inadequate and narrow in its scope, disqualifying research studies not written in English and not conducted between 2008 and 2012. The review:

  • incorrectly stated that shiatsu is distinct from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
  • incorrectly concluded that acupressure is not a core component of shiatsu
  • excluded all published data on the safety, risks and cost effectiveness of shiatsu
  • ignored academic best practice that recommends the inclusion of other research alongside randomised controlled trials to evaluate complex interventions such as shiatsu therapy.


Inexplicably shiatsu was removed but remedial massage was retained as an approved therapy. The review itself described trigger point therapy in remedial massage as being similar to shiatsu or acupressure. This statement not only links shiatsu to acupressure but also to massage therapy. But the government’s position is that these links do not exist and uses it to justify the cut.

The Australian government approved shiatsu training package HLT52215 links shiatsu to acupressure and massage, and includes both TCM and anatomy and physiology. The World Health Organisation recognises shiatsu as an acupressure therapy founded in TCM, and yet the Australian government denies this link.


There is evidence that shiatsu is safe and effective. Research includes:

  • A 2013 pilot study into the management of fibromyalgia symptoms showed ‘the potential of Shiatsu in the improvement of pain intensity, pressure pain threshold, sleep quality, and symptoms impact on health of patients with fibromyalgia. The proposed Shiatsu treatment protocol was feasible and well accepted by the patients.’
  • A 2001 study of 66 individuals with lower back pain found ‘Both pain and anxiety decreased significantly over time...These subjects would recommend shiatsu massage for others suffering from lower back pain’.
  • A 2011 systematic review stated that ‘Shiatsu, similar to acupressure, uses finger pressure, manipulations and stretches, along Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians... Shiatsu practitioners are trained in the anatomical location, functions and uses over 150 pressure points on the body. Evidence for the efficacy of acupressure may therefore potentially support claims about the efficacy of Shiatsu.’

More research at:


  • Shiatsu rebates to reinstated - people to have fair choice for their healthcare 


  • Sign and share our petition 
  • Contact your health fund - The government has given health funds an option to include natural therapies as an incentive. Voice your support for keeping health fund benefits for shiatsu.
  • Sign the Your Health Your Choice petition to register your support for natural therapies and the call for a Senate inquiry into the review at:
0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!