Psychologist reprimanded, fined and had a condition placed on his registration for breaching the Code of Ethics

31 Jan 2020

A tribunal has reprimanded and fined a psychologist and imposed a condition on his registration for engaging in professional misconduct.

Dr Menaglio was appointed by the Family Court of Western Australia (Family Court) as a Single Expert Witness (SEW) in a case involving a mother, father and child. On 15 May 2012, Dr Menaglio submitted a report to the Family Court.

On 18 October 2019, the Western Australia State Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found Dr Darryl Menaglio submitted a SEW Report to the Family Court which, amongst other things, attributed traits of the personality disorder of psychopathy to the father.

The tribunal found there was insufficient evidence to justify this attribution to the father, as Dr Menaglio had insufficient data or clinical evidence and failed to have another psychologist administer the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, which is designed specifically for the diagnosis and measuring of psychopathy. In his report, Dr Menaglio concluded that the child involved in the case required protection from the father. The tribunal found that Dr Menaglio failed to take account of the forensic context in which he was ordered by the Family Court to provide the report, and that he did not give adequate consideration to the potential adverse effects of preparing a SEW report.

The tribunal found that Dr Menaglio’s conduct was in breach of the Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics for the profession of psychology as he made observations in the report which lacked proper clinical foundation.

The tribunal reprimanded Dr Menaglio and imposed a fine of $20,000. The tribunal also placed a condition on his registration which prohibits him from acting as a single expert witness, or court appointed expert, in proceedings in the Family Court or the Family Court of Australia.

The tribunal noted that Dr Menaglio’s conduct was an isolated incident and that he had prepared numerous SEW reports between 2007 and 2017. Dr Menaglio submitted that he fully accepts that he should not have made the observations set out in the report and that he understands the significance of his actions.

The full decision is published on the eCourts website.

Page reviewed 31/01/2020