The only times you will need a referral are if you wish to consult an Osteopath under Medicare's Enhanced primary care program, the Veterans’ Affairs scheme or for WorkCare in Queensland only. Remember that not all Osteopaths are Veterans' Affairs providers. Otherwise you can simply contact an Osteopath directly.
There’s no such thing as a form of medical treatment which is guaranteed 100% safe in every case. Even the painkillers you buy in the supermarket for a headache may cause severe side effects in some patients. That said, however, Osteopathy has one of the best safety records of any medically-related profession. Osteopaths are trained to recognise any condition that might make Osteopathic treatment inadvisable, and will refer patients for appropriate medical attention in such cases. Just as a Doctor regards safety as the most important factor in selecting the appropriate medication for a particular patient, so an Osteopath will also select the most appropriate style of treatment with safety as the prime consideration. Your osteopath will discuss with you any risk associated with particular treatment.
With the federal government initiative under Medicare Plus, patients with chronic conditions may be referred by their GP for Osteopathic treatment under an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan. Patients under the Veterans' Affairs scheme and the various State WorkCare/WorkCover and Transport Accident compensation schemes have their treatment costs covered by those schemes. (Not all Osteopaths are Veterans' Affairs providers, so you should check before making an appointment.) Partial rebates are available for those members of Private Health Funds with ancillary or "extras" cover, but the amount of rebate and the conditions vary from insurer to insurer, so check the details of your policy.