28 Mar 2018
A court in Victoria has fined a woman for claiming to be a psychologist.
On 25 January 2018, a woman was fined $4,500 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $7,500 after pleading guilty to holding herself out as a psychologist by using the protected title ‘psychologist’ when she was not registered. Charges had been laid by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
The court heard that the woman was employed as a vocational advisor with a provider of injury management and occupational rehabilitation services. Despite never being registered, in her job application she used the title ‘provisional psychologist’. In her subsequent employment with the business she used the title in her email signature and business cards.
The woman also informed the complainant, who was a client, that she was a provisional psychologist.
The National Law1 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 that a court may impose is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
In his sentencing remarks at Ringwood Magistrates Court, Magistrate La Rosa commented on the importance of maintaining the public’s confidence in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) and the need for general deterrence.
Psychology Board of Australia Chair, Professor Brin Grenyer said the case served as a warning to anyone who sought to provide regulated health services to the public without being registered.
‘The National Law is there to protect the public by ensuring only health practitioners who are registered and meet required standards provide them with the care they need. Together with AHPRA, we will continue to take action against those who unlawfully claim to be a psychologist when they are not.’
AHPRA reminds consumers that it is important that they ensure 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.
For more information
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).