CORONAVIRUS: Remedial therapists are health professionals too!

21 April 2020

The Queensland Government today (21/4/20) FINALLY used some COMMON SENSE, bowed to public pressure and allowed qualified remedial massage therapists to re-open their practices after closing us down on 27/3/20.

We will, of course, abide by strict health and hygiene standards.

Fully qualified massage therapists are HEALTH PROFESSIONALS and have a significant role to play in your overall health care. This does not ONLY apply to muscle and joint aches and pains, headaches and migraines, but to a range of other ailments as well, including some you would consider “medical.”

The Queensland Health directive on Friday, 27/3/20, forcing professional health-related massage clinics to close down, but still allow AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency) registered physical hands-on bodywork therapists, in my opinion, had nothing to do with Coronavirus health and safety. It was a totally MEDICO-POLITICAL decision designed to cripple NATURAL therapies that do not come under the control of AHPRA (that is a long and detailed separate issue)

The QH directive was not only totally ridiculous but smacked of strong double standards.

It was also despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing only three days earlier that, following the best available health advice, “health-related massage” could remain open, with all the necessary health and hygiene precautions, as an “essential” service.

There is clearly a need for professional therapeutic massage. Tens of thousands of Australians choose, prefer and rely on it.

Thank you to all those people who pressured the Queensland Government members with emails, social media, phone calls and other means to change their mind.

Below is a copy of an email I sent on 14 April 2020 to the then Queensland Health Minister, Dr Steven Miles, and the Queensland Director-General of Health, Dr John Wakefield (also copied to a range of national, state and local media):

Dear Dr Miles and Dr Wakefield

I am writing on behalf of many thousands of Queenslanders who choose and rely on remedial and other therapeutic, health-related massage as part of their overall health care.

Could you please explain, in some detail, why you and your Queensland Health Department:

  • Publicly disagree with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his National Cabinet that health-related massage services should be allowed to continue operating during the COVID-19 crisis. This was announced during a media conference by PM Morrison on Tuesday night, March 24, after the National Cabinet took the “best medical advice from around Australia.”
  • Blatantly discriminate against one health industry sector by only allowing therapists who are registered with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency) to continue to practice in Queensland.
  • Do not follow the lead of other Australian states where health-related massage is allowed to continue. This includes Victoria which has one of the highest rates of COVID_19.
  • Do not yet understand that although AHPRA physical therapists – like physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors – have some massage skills, they are not specifically trained and qualified as massage therapists, in particular remedial massage.

I would also like to ask why you and Queensland Health choose to ignore:

  • The very strong evidence-based research that proves that therapeutic, health-related massage is safe, good quality and clinically effective.
  • The very strong findings relating to the above by the National Health and Medical Research Council, as part of the Private Health Insurance Rebate (PHIR) Review over several years.
  • That trained and qualified massage therapists (in particular, remedial) are the main health industry sector providing pain relief for common everyday muscle and joint aches and pains, headaches, migraines, stress and a range of other ailments where hands-on physical therapy treatment is required. This is distinct from rehabilitation and recovery after acute injury, surgery, other trauma and disease which is the main role of physiotherapists (AHPRA members).
  • Severe ongoing pain due to the lack of, or inappropriate, treatment can lead to suicide.
  • Massage is a choice of thousands of Queenslanders who are, literally, sick and tired from the many debilitating and sometimes deadly effects of some drugs and some surgeries offered by the medical profession. They want natural, drug-free options that natural therapies can provide.
  • The plight of many overworked Queensland health care and other essential industry workers who may not be able to continue in those roles without the pain relief they usually receive from massage therapists.
  • The plight of many Queensland cancer sufferers who rely on lymphatic drainage massage by suitably qualified massage therapists after cancer surgery.
  • The plight of many older Queenslanders who find that massage is what works best for them. If they have tried and don’t want the AHPRA therapists or GP prescribed strong painkiller medication with its many side effects, their simple choice will often be to call an Ambulance to take them to hospital and put further stress on those health care workers in the hope there might be another solution there.
  • Therapeutic, health-related massage is Federal Government regulated. To gain their qualifications, massage therapists need to undertake a range of nationally-accredited courses that set high standards not only in hands-on techniques, but also in subjects like anatomy and physiology, health and hygiene, workplace health and safety, ethics and first aid. Therefore, they are recognised health professionals in their own right (but apparently not in Queensland).
  • Suitably qualified remedial massage therapists can provide Federal Government private health fund subsidised rebates which reinforces their health professional status.
  • If social distancing is your main concern, why is it that hands-on Allied Health physical therapists are allowed to see clients, but fully qualified massage therapists are not?
  • Hairdressers, where there is also close personal contact, can continue to work as an “essential” industry.

The list could go on and on. I urge you and your department to immediately change the Queensland Health directive to allow health related massage to continue to practice in Queensland if they want to and providing they can meet strict health and safety precautions.

Yours sincerely

David Hall

Remedial Massage Therapist


David Hall ©


Mount Louisa-based Townsville remedial massage therapist for all types of muscle and/or joint aches and pains, headaches and migraines and preparing for and recovering from sports, exercise and other fitness activities, including Defence fitness tests. I guarantee the best value for money remedial massage in Townsville. CALL NOW on (07) 4774 6973 or CALL/TEXT 0438 774 819 to book an appointment.