MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

For about 40 years, the RMIT University in Australia had a Bachelor of Health Science/Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic), probably the first official course of its kind in Australia. “Get qualified with a chiropractic degree: a solid grounding in anatomy, physiology and pathology and practise at the RMIT Health Clinic” was how the RMIT advertised it. But now the website states this: “from 2023, this degree is no longer offered.”

The Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) is appalled!!!

What is more, they claim that this decision was made without consultation with staff, students (Australian or international) or other relevant stakeholders such as the chiropractic professional bodies. A publicly funded university acting in this manner appears to fly in the face of the Albanese government’s positive philosophy around educational access, particularly for those in the regions.
What the ACA omits to mention is that the chiro-unit at the RMIT has a dismal research output and hardly ever tackled relevant research questions such as effectiveness and safety of spinal manipulations. The ACA have even posted a video and believe a public institution that selectively closes a program which serves the public health interest and is economically viable, requires scrutiny. Given the role chiropractors play in serving the ageing population, together with the fact that low back pain is the number one disability worldwide, this decision is contrary to future community needs and industry demands.
Really?
The role chiros play in terms of public health, serving the elderly, alleviating back pain, reducing disability is close to zero. The fact that it is not nothing at all is due to the fact that, arguably, it is a detrimental role. As we have discussed ad nauseam on this blog:
  • the main contribution of chiros to public health is that many of them advise AGAINST immunizations;
  • a significant contribution by chiropractors to the health of the elderly is that they have put many of them in wheelchairs.
The ACA state that they believe an institution funded by government must be accountable to its stakeholders both within and without.
Exactly!
I suspect and hope that this is precisely the reason why they closed the course.
Well dome RMIT!

16 Responses to The RMIT university closes chiropractic course

  • About bloody time. This chancre on a university long known for engineering is finally being removed.

    I have sent quite a few disparaging emails to RMIT about this nonsense. It probably has nothing to do with those, but it does give some ill-deserved satisfaction.

    • It seems ridiculous that a drug free manual healing art course that has been established and successful. Is closing its doors .
      I wonder what back of hand deals have been done to allow and support this move.
      Definitely not in the interest of Victorian public health services.

  • Dear Edzard,
    nevertheless, the german “ARD”, “the flagship national television channel”, continues to market SCAM, especially for osteopathy.

    The leading actress in the program “Die Gesundmacher” explains to the astonished viewer that her miraculous hands have realigned the parallelogram of forces in her client’s body.
    Phytagoras and Newton could not have solved the equation better.

    And the consequence? After 5 minutes I turned off the TV to better devote myself to my shaman drum. 🤣

    https://www.ardmediathek.de/video/die-gesundmacher/osteopathie-heilende-haende/hr-fernsehen/MWVhZGQ3MTItMmQ1MS00MzZjLWFmMWItNThhZTcyZDFlOWU0

    What do you think abaut?

  • Hopefully AEC in Bournemouth will follow suit. I have long been worried that NHS training and courses are run alongside a ‘degree’ in chiropractic’ in this institution which only serves to dissemble the public.

  • I am, perhaps, being over-optimistic here, but hopefully this new RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) development will be seen as a precedent and herald the closing of other chiropractic degrees around the globe.

    IMO, the writing has been on the wall for some time regarding the dropping of the RMIT chiropractic degree. The following chronological trawl through some historical reports about it may help give some insight as to why the chiropractic program is finally being discontinued:

    16th MARCH 2011

    Document submitted to the Australian Federal Health Minister requesting closure of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Chiropractic Paediatric Clinic

    This request was made on the basis that the RMIT Chiropractic Paediatric Clinic was ‘teaching inappropriate and potentially dangerous techniques that target pregnant women, babies, infants and children’. The 20-page document submitted by Loretta Marron, a long standing campaigner against pseudoscience in health, includes expert opinion from high profile and well-regarded Professors of Medicine relating to supposed efficacy of chiropractic, identifies the claims made by lecturers and graduates from RMIT and other chiropractic teaching institutions, identifies the relevant codes of conduct that are breached by graduates, identifies research relating to spinal manipulation on a wide range of health conditions, and recommends that the competency and education standards for chiropractors be reviewed.

    Ref: https://tinyurl.com/4krr4yk4

    28th MARCH 2011

    “The reality is that such chiropractic ‘subluxations’ of the spine simply do not exist and that spinal manipulations have no bearing on general diseases unrelated to the spine. The position statement [ https://tinyurl.com/yvnbkj4u ] of RMIT on the ‘vertebral subluxation complex (VSC)’, which is described as ‘greater than a simplistic biomechanical concept’, leaves the issue confused…It is therefore surprising that a webpage [ https://tinyurl.com/54v32x4b ] on Better Health Channel State of Victoria, with permission of the Victorian Minister for Health, and produced in consultation with, and approved by RMIT University’s School of Health Sciences, still claims that chiropractic is able to assist in a number of disorders including asthma, back injuries, headaches, lower back pain, migraines, period pain, problems with posture, sciatica, slipped disk and tinnitus. There is simply no evidence based on proper clinical trials that spinal manipulation can ameliorate children conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nocturnal enuresis, infant colic, asthma, or boost to the immune system. Conversely, there is extensive documentation of serious adverse effects caused by chiropractic spinal manipulations…In Australia many chiropractors still claim to be able to intervene successfully in complex diseases in children such as ADHD, autism and other behavioural problems, bed wetting, asthma, immune diseases and infant colic, among others. A number of letters from experts of different disciplines accompanying a submission to the Minister of Health by Ms Loretta Marron, a long standing campaigner against pseudoscience in health, has called for the closure of a chiropractic clinic aimed at children run by the RMIT. RMIT is rather vague about what they actually offer for children’s health, claiming that they do not aim to treat ‘conditions’. Instead, they claim to look at the ‘biomechanical situation for an individual and make the appropriate gentle adjustments’. This, they say, can improve the situations in other parts of the patient’s health but RMIT is not claiming a direct cause…Chiropractors who perform spinal manipulations on children, for conditions they should know cannot be cured by spinal manipulations, either believe the nonsensical principles of chiropractic – and this would amount to mere self-deception – or are deceiving parents of children…The existence in Australia of a specialized chiropractic clinic for children should raise serious concerns for the potential harmful effect of dubious practices. The confidence of patients on their health carers should be based on evidence-based practices, transparency and sound scientific principles, not superstition.”

    Ref: https://theconversation.com/a-neuroscientists-view-spare-children-the-manipulations-of-chiropractic-quackery-427

    SEPTEMBER 2011

    Controversies in Chiropractic and RMIT Courses/Clinic

    “Is chiropractic at RMIT really worthy of government (read: tax-payers’ dollars) support?…RMIT has been publicly criticised for opening a Chiropractic Paediatric Clinic, along with a public call from Loretta Marron for this clinic to be shut down. You may think that this doesn’t sound like much to complain about, the reason is: There is zero scientific evidence that chiropractic is effective for any specific childhood condition …Chiropractic treatment is not without risks, thus children are being treated with chiropractic ‘therapy’, without any conclusive evidence that the treatment being performed is effective. From a totally objective, mathematical, non-emotional risk/benefit point of view, if there’s no benefit from treatment the child only gets the risks associated with the treatment.”

    Ref: https://vicskeptics.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/recent-controversies-in-chiropractic-and-rmit-coursesclinic/

    OCTOBER 2011 (Follow up)

    RMIT (Not So) Open Day

    “And so it was, I went along to RMIT’s Open Day on August 14, 2011, with my camera, voice recorder and some prepared questions. As any good skeptical researcher would do, I went searching for the evidence and for the experts that might help me find it. Surely, if there is any up-to-date science behind chiropractic the leaders of chiropractic teaching in Australia would know? Would I be the one to eat humble pie and change my mind if the science had come of age? …I found a quiet moment to approach Tom [Molyneux] and engage in polite conversation. I introduced myself as a blog writer from the Australian Skeptics and asked Tom if he’d be willing to be interviewed. Tom was polite but firm in his answer, which was ‘no’…”

    More here: https://vicskeptics.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/rmit-not-so-open-day/

    NOVEMBER 2011

    Chiropractic degree wins bent spoon

    “The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has won the Bent Spoon Award for being ‘the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle’, for the alleged content of its chiropractic degrees. Awarded by the Australian Skeptics, the dishonour was given to the Melbourne-based university for its chiropractic teachings and for treating children and infants at its on-campus paediatric chiropractic clinics. The clinics were subject to a series of complaints earlier this year by leading figures in medicine, amid concern there was no evidence that chiropractic treatments on children were safe or effective. The university refused to comment on its award.”

    Ref: http://scepticsbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Bent-Spoon.pdf

    MARCH 2012

    Tertiary education institutions should not offer pseudoscientific medical course

    “There is unease concerning chiropractors extending their role in the health system beyond the treatment of musculoskeletal problems related to the back — the least controversial aspect of chiropractic. Many conservative chiropractors confine their practice to this area, but some self-regulated chiropractors’ associations have a more extreme vision that chiropractic should become the major primary care discipline in the country. Belief that chiropractic can offer all-embracing primary care stems from its founders’ concept of ‘innate intelligence’. This supposedly flows as energy up and down the spinal column, controlling the normal function of the body’s physiological processes. Invisible subluxations (non-visualisable disturbances of spinal column integrity) are claimed by some, but not all, to interfere with this vital flow and to be responsible for myriad medical problems. Alarmingly, some chiropractors now extend their manipulation of the spine to children, making claims that this can cure asthma, allergies, bedwetting, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, colic, fever and numerous other problems, and serve as a substitute for vaccination. A number of chiropractors do not support these notions, and we respect those who distance themselves from such unproven beliefs. However, the federal government’s development of a national registration system for chiropractors without definition of an acceptable range of services, together with permission to call themselves doctors, have enhanced chiropractors’ credibility. Pseudoscientific courses sully the genuinely scientific courses and research conducted at the same institutions.”

    Ref: https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/196_04_050312/mcl101128_fm.pdf

    SEPTEMBER 2013

    The case of research funding for SCAMs [So-Called Complementary and Alternative Medicine]

    Focus here is on the RMIT and their government-funded chiropractic program:

    In 2011, RMIT won the Bent Spoon Award [ https://tinyurl.com/5n78au9p ] for “for having a fundamentalist chiropractic education program  and for endorsing the practice by targeting children and infants in their on-campus paediatric chiropractic clinics”. Aside from possible use for mechanical back pain interventions, chiropractic is essentially quackery [ https://tinyurl.com/2p8ktj2k ] …by government funding of such programs and clinics, they give their thumbs up and endorsement of such quackery. This is the sort of thing that diminishes the reputation [ https://tinyurl.com/5xd2h95w ] of such an institute.

    Ref: https://mostlyscience.com/2013/09/funding-magic/

    NOVEMBER 2013

    South Australian chiropractor claims immunisation is the same as rape

    ‘Someone removes your freedom of choice. You are forced, against your will to have their fluids injected into your body. How is this different from rape?’

    “…one person even liked Lawrence’s rape analogy. Who? Oliver Croke, the son of CAA [Chiropractors’ Association of Australia] National Board Member, Tony Croke. Oliver Croke is also a chiropractic student at RMIT.”

    Ref: https://reasonablehank.com/2013/11/12/south-australian-chiropractor-claims-immunisation-is-the-same-as-rape/

    JANUARY 2023

    Future Research by the Australian Chiropractic Profession: Analysis of Comments and Suggestions From a Nationwide Survey of Academics and Practitioners:

    Findings suggest “a division in the Australian chiropractic profession”.

    Ref: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37422749/

    IN ESSENCE:

    “Chiropractors can’t have it both ways. Our theories cannot be both dogmatically held vitalistic constructs and be scientific at the same time.”

    Ref: Joseph Keating Jr, ‘The Meanings of Innate’, Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 46,1 (2002), p.10. https://tinyurl.com/3t3vucz6

    While I’m here, can anyone shed any light on this?

    An article published in the Asia Pacific Chiropractic Journal in April 2022 entitled ‘The Chiropractic Board of Australia and its evidence-free position on the chiropractic care of children: A call for action’ says that the Chiropractic Board of Australia is:

    “maintaining a dated interim policy that advises chiropractors to not use spinal manipulation to treat children under two years of age, pending the recommendations arising from the independent expert review”

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360080125_The_Chiropractic_Board_of_Australia_and_its_evidence-free_position_on_the_chiropractic_care_of_children_A_call_for_action (This link might not work, so try a Google search for the article)

    Does any know if Australian chiropractors are still banned from treating children under two? There doesn’t seem to be an update available on the matter.

  • I believe RMIT are also closing their Chinese Medicine degree. An outbreak of sanity to be applauded.

  • Here’s a piece that I forgot to mention that was published in the Chiropractic Journal of Australia. Prof. Phillip Ebrall DC, its author, is the former Head of Discipline for Chiropractic at RMIT:

    “Inspired by a visit to Disneyland this paper explores the challenges associated with the need to teach something that may not exist. It reports lessons learned by viewing a successful commercial illusion that has capacity to inform a pedagogical approach to abstract objects. I use two reports of experiential narrative to identify a teaching methodology that may be applicable to those who similarly teach something for which existence and actuality is difficult to prove in a quantitative sense. In each example an abstract object appears to have real dimensions and even though the abstract object or thing may not exist I attempt to show how we can come to understand that it does exist through a structured process using true statements that can describe various elements of the object. This process provides a linguistic meaning for an embodied experience that is believed relevant and helpful to advancing our collective understanding of the scholarship of learning and teaching about the chiropractic subluxation complex.”

    ‘Towards Better Teaching about the Subluxation Complex’
    https://tinyurl.com/mv7a2fz4 (Scroll down to the last item in the link for the above Abstract)

    From the full text:

    “…there is little option other than to rely on an intelligent use of language within a true context of philosophy to encapsulate the discipline’s beliefs…it matters not whether the subluxation is a tangible clinical entity with physical dimensions or a mental creation; what does matter is that the statements used to describe it are in themselves true.”

    Given the above, hopefully the RMIT won’t cave in to current, frantic lobbying from chiropractors and reverse its decision.

  • I cannot believe all the baloney that is being said about chiropractic. Usually written by people who don’t understand the science behind it or have never had a treatment. I suffered from severe headaches for many years and no matter what was offered, (drugs or otherwise) nothing worked. It wasn’t until a wise Dr suggested I tried Chiropractic. The results were almost instant. I had suffered a neck and back injury many years prior and the alignment of both was way out, which was pinching nerves. (simplified version). I have been getting regular chiroprator treaments since. No headaches! If the Chiro degree course at RMIT has been closed down due to the loud voices of the cranks in society, then this is a dam shame and short sighted. Are they going to close down physio, massage & medical degree courses next?

  • Quite sad to see and my statement is in relation to the general public’s opinion of Chiropractic, mostly painted by either the opposing business model (being medical) or some people in the Chiropractic profession making wildly inaccurate claims about what they can do and blaming / acting like the whole profession does the same. I’ve seen this in medicine as well and there isn’t an outcry of people banning medicine, logic people.

    I’m a rare breed, a medical doctor and a chiropractor so I can safely say things on both sides of the fence, the reason I got into medicine was to help people, the reason I got into chiropractic is because I realise (as does my colleagues and other medical professionals) we don’t have all the answers and we cannot treat everything.

    I myself had a very similar experience as Wayne but even more severe as a child. I would get many headaches but apart from this even when I didn’t have headaches I could suddenly out of no where get a pain that would quite literally feel like my skull was splitting open. I would hear a crack and the extremely painful feeling would be there along with it.

    I went to every doctor and specialist and they could not find out what was wrong after all the tests done available. This is when a medical doctor suggested I see a chiropractor and after ONE visit they were gone 90%, after I did some sport I fell and it came back but still only about 50% of the time it used to, visited once more and they have never come back again.

    No pressure to keep coming back like you hear some dodgy places do, no overselling what chiropractic can do or cure, two visits.

    I was in pain for a DECADE of my life before I found help through chiropractic, it should have NOT been like this.

    The chiropractor did not however graduate from RMIT so I cannot comment on evidence based practice there (he graduated instead of Macquarie University) which I believe pushes evidence based practice a lot more, but regardless of the finger pointing, guess who is suffering? The patients!

    We need to work TOGETHER so examples like my own and Wayne are NOT a common occurrence.

    • interesting!
      so, why do you think there is no sound evidence that chiro manipulation cures headaches?

      • Spoken like someone who has never looked at a single study online and just spews regurgitated crap they hear people say. There’s quite literally countless studies about the effectiveness of chiropractic for certain types of headaches online. Along with a plethora of evidence about the effectiveness of treating lower back pain.
        You are so brainwashed by the media, you question a medical doctor that has objectively studied BOTH. Which is extremely rare.
        This is exactly what he’s talking about.
        The uneducated general public, listening to a corrupt medical industry being bias against an opposing industry because it directly cuts into their profit.
        I had doctors and physios in the same university classes as myself. So are they both “quacks and pseudoscientists as well”?
        Rehabilitation, soft tissue therapy, immunology, advanced pathology, anatomy, medical examination, physiology, pharmacology and toxicology, neuroscience.
        We literally look at Cadavers aka dead bodies every single week to study the intricacies of the human body. Like memorising and finding every structure and nerve pathway.
        These are ALL medical subjects shared by medical and chiro students alike.

        Chiropractic treatment is based around all of these subjects.

        If you’ve ever played contact sport. You’ve been hit/tackled awkwardly and had your whole neck crack with a whiplash type movement.
        You won’t blink an eye when that happens and just cop the pain.

        But you’ll kick up a fuss and have a cry when a practitioner wants to do that in a safe settings, to simply put everything back where it’s meant to be.
        Makes absolutely no sense at all.

        And don’t even get me started on the regurgitated arguments about “dangerous” chiropractic.
        Johns Hopkins – arguably the single best medical University in the world. Released a study that estimated in America alone, 371,000 people are killed every year due to medical misdagnosis.

        There have been 26 published chiropractic deaths since 1943. Worldwide.

        Stop listening to what people tell you. Do some real research into the benefits of Chiro/Osteo. Just like there are shitty, lazy doctors and physios, there can be shitty lazy practitioners too.
        It just depends on the person.

      • Prof. Ernst. Your use of the word “cure” shows no understanding of the success rate for the treatment of any condition by any type of health care provider. Most providers would be very reluctant to use that word and would prefer to use words such as “Manage” or “treat”. There are many conditions “treated” where there is no “cure”. A good example is this is the use of anti-psychotic medications for psychiatric conditions and also the use of gabapentine for chronic pain. A “cure” is unlikely, but the conditions are “managed”.

  • Closing Chinese medicine, Chiropractic, Animal manipulation course, etc
    Using poor excuses.
    Something bigger in the Agenda of Politics I would have thought.

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