08 Feb 2018
A court in Victoria has fined a man for claiming to be a clinical psychologist.
On 5 February 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court at Melbourne (the court) to five charges relating to unlawful use of a protected title and to holding out as a registered psychologist when he was not registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (the Board).
He was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay AHPRA $14,325 in costs. No conviction was recorded against him.
The defendant had made representations and held himself out as a psychologist and/or clinical psychologist to a number of organisations and institutions. His profile on the websites of these organisations and on LinkedIn identified him as a clinical psychologist.
The charges under sections 113 and 116 of the National Law1 were filed against the defendant by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) on behalf of the Board in September 2017.
Last year almost 35,000 psychologists registered with the Board. Only those that do can call themselves a ‘psychologist’ or ‘clinical psychologist’ under the National Law. Anyone who is not registered and uses a protected title can be subject to prosecution.
Psychology Board Chair, Professor Brin Grenyer, said the public was entitled to assume that the health practitioner they saw was registered and met the standards required to provide them with the care they needed.
‘The National Law has been in place to protect the public since July 2010. Everyone seeking to practise as a psychologist should be aware of the need to register with the Board,’ Professor Grenyer said.
‘To knowingly and recklessly hold out as a registered health practitioner, no matter the profession, poses a risk to the public and this is why it is an offence under the National Law.’
Make sure you are seeing a registered health practitioner
It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. ‘psychologist', ‘medical practitioner', ‘nurse’ etc.). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA.
The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles. The law allows for penalties for using protected titles or holding out as a registered practitioner when not entitled to. The maximum penalty which a court may impose is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
AHPRA reminds consumers that it is important that they ensure that the practitioner they are seeing is appropriately registered. Anyone receiving treatment from an unregistered person who is claiming to be registered is a cause for concern and we want to hear from them. Remember to check the Register of practitioners or you can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.
1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).