The NHMRC Natural Therapies Working Committee will oversee evidence evaluations on the clinical effectiveness of 16 natural therapies excluded from private health insurance rebates from 1 April 2019. 

The evidence evaluations are being prepared for the Department of Health for the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 - to supplement  the 2014-15 review and  assess additional evidence of the clinical effectiveness of the 16 excluded natural therapies.   

The committee was established under section 39 of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (NHMRC Act).

Natural Therapies Working Committee - Terms of Reference

Contact Details

Natural Therapies Review Team

National Health and Medical Research Council
GPO Box 1421
Canberra ACT 2601
Email address: complementarymedicine@nhmrc.gov.au
Please note: Members of the Natural Therapies Working Committee are unable to respond to individual enquiries. The NHMRC Project Team will do this.  

Member information and Disclosure of Interests

In line with the process to establish any NHMRC committee, each committee member was asked to disclose their interests.  

Members were specifically asked to identify, to the best of their ability, interests related to natural therapies, including:

  • relevant financial activities, 
  • relevant professional or organisational experience, and
  • other relationships or activities.  

Throughout the project members are required to inform NHMRC of any changes to their interests, and management strategies are put in place as needed.

This process is guided by NHMRC’s Policy on the Disclosure of Interests Requirements for Prospective and Appointed NHMRC Committee Members. This policy in turn reflects the disclosure of interest requirements in section 42A of the NHMRC Act and subsection 29(2) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).
 

Chair,
Associate Professor
Jennifer
Hunter

Western Sydney University and University of Sydney, New South Wales

Associate Professor Hunter has been an active health services researcher with NICM Health Research Institute since 2014 and is a primary-care integrative medical practitioner with over 25 years of clinical experience. Associate Professor Hunter's research interests are multidisciplinary, employing qualitative, quantitative and systematic review methods to translate and implement the latest research into clinical practice, health service delivery and policy. She is highly regarded in Australia and internationally, providing advice on integrative medicine guidelines and research, and expert consultation to the World Health Organization.
 

Declaration

  • Membership with professional organisations or their interest groups that are either directly or indirectly concerned with complementary medicine research and its integration into mainstream health care. 
  • Volunteer chair or member of committees or working groups that are concerned with complementary medicine and its integration into mainstream health care. 
  • Received consultancy fees, honorariums, and travel and accommodation to provide expert consultation or speak on traditional, complementary and integrative medicine and health. 
  • Volunteer editor for peer review journals that publish research and commentaries regarding traditional, complementary and integrative medicine and health. 
  • Conduct research, publish original research papers and review articles in peer review journals, and public speaking regarding traditional, complementary and integrative medicine and health.
  • Adjunct Associate Professor (unpaid) at the NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University. As a medical research institute, NICM receives research grants and donations from foundations, universities, government agencies, individuals and industry. Sponsors and donors provide untied funding for work to advance the vision and mission of NICM, the details of which are publicly available.
  • Investigator for research independently conducted by NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University that was funded by the complementary medicine industry or professional bodies.
  • The Western Sydney University has an Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, with which I have not had any research, administrative or other affiliation.
  • Affiliated with the University of Sydney in the previous 5 years. The University has a Confucius Institute, with which I have never had any research, administrative or other affiliation.

Professor
Catherine
Bennett

Deakin University, Victoria 

Professor Bennett has a distinguished career in public health practice, research, academic governance and teaching. She joined Deakin University in 2009 after more than eight years with the University of Melbourne as Associate Professor in Epidemiology, Deputy Chair of the Academic Programs Committee in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Director of Population Health Practice in the Melbourne School of Population Health. Prior to that, Catherine worked with the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments in a variety of senior positions, including Olympic Public Health Coordinator for Northern 

Professor
Alan
Bensoussan

Western Sydney University, New South Wales

Professor Bensoussan is one of Australia’s prominent integrative medicine researchers with a focus on Chinese medicine spanning 30 years. He was Chair of the Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (2011-14) following ten years prior Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration committee service, and served on the National Medicines Policy Committee (2008-11). Alan has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, the Singapore Health Sciences Authority Expert Panel for Herbal Medicines, on two international journal editorial boards and is an invited grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Declaration

  • I have a background in integrative medicine research with a focus on Chinese medicine spanning 30 years. I am Director of NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University. As a health and medical research institute, NICM receives research grants and donations from foundations, universities, government agencies, individuals and industry. Sponsors and donors provide untied funding for work to advance the vision and mission of the Institute, the details of which are publicly available. . As part of NICM Health Research Institute role I am involved in the conduct and higher degree supervision of research in traditional, complementary and integrative medicine, including herbal and nutritional medicine, yoga and tai chi. This includes publications and peer review of original research papers and review articles, along with ad hoc grant reviews.
  • NICM Health Research Institute has been commissioned to draft efficacy monographs on Vitamins B6 and B12 (Nov 2019).
  • Recent recipient of the Qi Huang International Award for achievement in Chinese Medicine, Beijing Nov 14, 2019.
  • Member of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.
  • Western Sydney University has an Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture. I have no research, administrative or other role with the Institute.
  • As part of my work with NICM Health Research Institute I attended an industry research meeting China (Nov 2019) that was paid for by the industry partner.
     

Professor
Stephen
Myers

Southern Cross University, New South Wales

Professor Myers is a member of the Complementary Medicine Evaluation Committee of the Commonwealth Government, a statutory expert advisory committee to the Office of Complementary Medicines of Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian Government Department of Health. He has acted as consultant to industry, government and educational institutions on a broad range of issues involving natural medicine. He is a co-author of Government reviews on the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Australia (1996) and on Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine (2005).
 

Declaration

  • Holds academic positions as a Professor in Naturopathic, Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Southern Cross University and Western Sydney University. Undertakes clinical, laboratory and epidemiological research for the complementary medicine industry researching the pharmacology of complementary medicines. Over the past three decades has worked with a wide range of industry sponsors both in Australia and internationally.
  • Serves on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Pharmalink International. This company produces products from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels. Receives a stipend for this activity.
  • Named inventor on a patent field by Pharmalink International in December 2019 which will provide a small royalty once the product named in the patent is on the market.
     

Dr
Kylie
Porritt

University of Adelaide, South Australia
Dr Porritt is a Senior Research Fellow for the Implementation Science program of Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI). She is an active contributor to the field of evidence based health care. In her current role she is the Program Manager of the Implementation Science team, Academic lead for the Cardiovascular Care specialty and the Emergency and Trauma specialty and chair of the Implementation Science Methods Group. She is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Nursing Practice and the JBI Databases for Systematic Review and Implementation Reports as well as an active, contributing member to various methodology and evidence based practice committees.  Dr Porritt is an experienced, published researcher having been involved in the conduct of multiple systematic reviews and various health related research projects. She has a particular interest in developing methodology for the synthesis of qualitative evidence.
 

Declaration

  • Senior Research Fellow, JBI, University of Adelaide.
  • Publications related to evidence synthesis of complementary therapies.
  • Associate Editor, JBI Database Systematic Reviews and Implementation Report, International Journal of Nursing Practice.
  • Core staff member, JBI Adelaide GRADE Centre 
  • Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Centre.  
  • Member of Cochrane Nursing Care Field, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
  • Member of GRADE working parties, 
  • Member of JBI Scientific Committee, Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Methods Group. 
  • Chair, Implementation Science Methods Group, Joanna Briggs Institute. 
  • Supervisor to post-graduate higher degree students at the University of Adelaide.  
  • Involved in the conduct and publication of multiple systematic reviews undertaken using various methodologies with a particular interest in developing the methodology for the synthesis of qualitative evidence.
     

Professor
Caroline
Smith

Western Sydney University, New South Wales

Professor Smith specialises in clinical acupuncture research in relation to women’s health. She has been awarded four NHMRC project grants in the areas of pregnancy, gynaecology and reproductive health. Her background is in evidence-based research in relation to acupuncture and other complementary therapies, as well as the integration of Chinese medicine and biomedical research protocols. She has extensive experience in the design, conduct and analysis of randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analysis. Caroline is an Editor with the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group, Advisory Board member of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Complementary Medicine Field and Board member of the Australian Psycho-social Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 
 

Declaration

  • Received funding from industry to conduct clinical trials of Western herbal medicine.
  • Conducted PhD supervision of students undertaking research to evaluate the role of western herbal medicine, and yoga. Some industry funding received to support research costs. Employed by the National Institute of Complementary Medicine in the previous 5 years. 
  • As a medical research institute, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine receives research grants and donations from foundations, universities, government agencies and industry. Sponsors and donors provide untied and tied funding for work to advance the vision and mission of the Institute, the details of which are publicly available.
  • Received consultancy fees, honorariums or travel and accommodation to provide expert consultation or speak on traditional, complementary and integrative medicine and health.
  • Conduct academic research since 1998 including Chief investigator on NHMRC and NICM Health Research Institute grants.
  • Advisory Board Member of CAM Field, Cochrane Collaboration
  • Editorial Board member journal Integrative Medicine Research, European Journal of Integrative Medicine.
  • Grant funding for an open label pilot study of yoga during pregnancy
  • Publications related to evidence synthesis of complementary therapies
  • Society for acupuncture research
  • Advisory Board of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Complementary Medicine (CAM) Field.
  • KIOM 24th Anniversary International Symposium, Seoul
  • Congress of the Asia pacific Initiative on reproduction- Precision Medicine in Human Reproduction, 12-15th April, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, with which I have not had any research, administrative or other affiliation.

Associate Professor
Jon
Wardle

University of Technology Sydney, New South Wales

Associate Professor Wardle is visiting professor at the University of Oxford, University of Washington, Boston University and the University of Hong Kong. He is also a core committee member of the Public Health Association of Australia's Research Advisory Group, which promotes and advocates for public health research and development. He has clinical backgrounds in naturopathy and nursing and postgraduate training in public health and law. Jon has worked on complementary medicine and primary healthcare policy in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Latin America and India, and holds editorial positions on a number of journals, including editor-in-chief at the International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine and Advances in Integrative Medicine.
 

Declaration

  • Has a clinical background which includes naturopathic medicine and has practised and conducted research into several of the therapies listed as being under review by the Natural Therapies Working Committee. 
  • Royalties for publication of textbook
  • Have been engaged on multiple paid consultancies related to natural therapies. These include consultancies for the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization, Therapeutic Goods Administration, Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman, New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission, New South Wales Health Professional Councils Authority and I have served as an expert witness in cases involving complementary medicine
  • I have received travel and/or accommodation support to participate and deliver presentations at the International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research, the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health, the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals and other academic conferences not focusing on complementary medicines where I've spoken about complementary medicines
  • I have directly or indirectly (as part of a team) received multiple grants related to complementary medicine research, some of which have come from entities involved with complementary medicine, including the Blackmore Foundation, the Association of Massage Therapists, the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, the Jacka Foundation, Integria Health Care and Artemis Pharmaceuticals. These grants have been related to research costs and the institutions have had no role in design, implementation or analysis of research
  • I serve in an unpaid capacity on the executives of numerous organisations that have a relationship with complementary medicine. These include as the convenor for the Evidence, Research and Practice in Complementary Medicine Special Interest Group of the Public Health Association of Australia and Secretary General of the World Naturopathic Federation. I serve on the editorial board for 5 peer-reviewed journals focused on complementary medicine, including as Editor-in-Chief for Advances in Integrative Medicine
     

Associate Professor
Tony
Zhang

RMIT University, Melbourne Victoria 

Associate Professor Zhang specialises in teaching and researching evidence based clinical Chinese medicine, clinical epidemiology, systematic review/meta-analysis and research methodologies. He has published more than 150 peer-review articles and co-authored more than 10 evidence-based clinical Chinese medicine monographs. He has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and, has regularly reviewed research grants for the Hong Kong Health and Medical Research Fund. Tony is a visiting professor at the Education University of Hong Kong and an editorial board member of six peer-review journals including the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
 

Declaration

  • Discipline Leader (Feb 2011 to present) of Chinese Medicine in the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University. Teaches evidence-based healthcare practice to undergraduate and postgraduate students and supervises MPhi and PhD students in the field of evidence based complementary medicine.
  • Deputy Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine (RMIT); Co-Deputy Director, China-Australia International Research Centre for Chinese Medicine (RMIT);  Director, Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute, RMIT University; Former Company Secretary, Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ARCCAM) Ltd; Standing Director, International Chinese Medicine Clinical Standards Working Committee, World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies.
  • Research grant support to conduct academic research since 2005 including Chief investigator on NHMRC and NICM Health Research Institute grants.
  • Received travel support to participate and deliver speeches at conferences