Homeopathy in Australia

Homeopathy in Australia

Mr. Thienette de Bérigny, a layman (he was referred to as Dr. Bergny in NZ in 1855), is credited as the first to introduce homeopathy in Victoria in 1850, although some say it was Dr. John Hickson in Melbourne. Some homeopathy was introduced with the English settlers.

There were several medical doctors. Stephen Simpson, the author of The Practical Advantages of Homeopathy (1836) "was discouraged [in the UK] and took to a sheep run in Australia." He practiced homeopathy in Queensland, and eventually returned to England.

In 1858, Benjamin Wilson, a Baptist clergyman, settled in Brisbane and practiced homeopathy. In 1857 a Benedictine monk, Rosendo Salvado, was using homeopathy among the Aborigines near Perth. E. G. Gould in Melbourne established the first homeopathic pharmacy in 1864. The Melbourne Homeopathic Hospital was founded in 1869 and survived until 1936 when it became allopathic and re-named Prince Henry Hospital. There were two homeopathic hospitals in Tasmania at the turn of the century.

King lists 17 graduates from Australia who studied at US schools between 1850 and 1905. William Moore, a retired homeopath, left money to establish the Sydney Homeopathic Hospital in Glebe in 1902. The last homeopath, Leigh Deck, resigned in 1945. However, the terms of Moore's will allowed the hospital to continue operating under the public hospital system provided a bed was always available for homeopathic treatment. The hospital continued receiving the bequest against the time when interest in homeopathy might revive.

In 1985 the Australian Medical Homeopathic Society for Research and Education (AMHSRE) approached the Sydney Homeopathic Hospital to use the accumulated funds in Moore's bequest to have the hospital extended and modernized to include a homeopathic clinic and dispensary. The Central Sydney Area Health Services vetoed the proposal, and closed the hospital in 1989. At that time the AMHSRE was replaced by the Australian Medical Faculty of Homeopathy (AMFoH) which lobbied the health department to provide hospital facilities to satisfy the growing demand for homeopathic treatment. Eighteen months later, on August 1, 1990, a homeopathic outpatient clinic was opened at the nearby Balmain Hospital, which still operates today.

A journal, Australian Homeopathic Progress, was published in Melbourne in 1870. Dr. Hoyle mentioned homeopathy was declining- there were 27 doctors in 1911 and 19 in 1931. There was one homeopath in Western Australia and "the laity prescribe for themselves to the limits of their courage."

The Australian Institute of Homeopathy was formed in 1946. Membership was open to qualified homeopaths, but students were allowed to attend meetings. Although the numbers of qualified members dropped severely it was carried on by Mrs. Gwen Reynolds who held regular weekly meetings at her home. She practiced part-time with Dr Buiys, a Dutchman. The Institute was mainly responsible for promoting and advertising homeopathy, by giving regular talks to Lions Clubs, Rotary, etc. The Institute established the first course in Homeopathy when the Nature Care College in Sydney was formed. This attracted 20-25 students every year and the course ran for 4 years.

Over the years several homeopathic societies were founded in the different states. The Australian Federation of homeopaths became a national organization of affiliated state branches by the late 1980s. By mid 1990 the AFH changed its name to the Australian Homeopathic Association, and became a truly national organization; 80% of homeopathic practitioners are members.

By early 1998, nine homeopathic associations had amalgamated to become five. A National Competency Standard was established and awaits government endorsement at the time of writing. As in the UK, under Common Law, the professional homeopath is allowed to practice. Medical doctors may practice homeopathy, and there is a homeopathic society for MDs, The Australia Medical Faculty of Homeopathy. It will not amalgamate with the non-medical association but has been instrumental in helping endorse the competencies.

There are about 450-500 professional homeopaths (not all association members) and perhaps 20 serious medical homeopaths with another 130 MDs who use some homeopathic remedies. There are about 10 recognized specialist schools and several naturopathic colleges teaching homeopathy to a professional standard, and there are three manufacturing pharmacies. The country is represented in the LMHI.