21 Jun 2018
A New South Wales court has fined a counsellor $9500 after he was convicted of claiming to be a registered psychologist and providing information to an inspector that was false or misleading.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) filed one charge in the Local Court of New South Wales against Mr David Citer on 3 October 2017. AHPRA alleged that Mr Citer contravened the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (National Law), by ‘knowingly or recklessly’ using a title or word in an email that indicated he was authorised or qualified to practise as a psychologist.
Mr Citer has never held registration as a registered health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board.
The charge followed complaints referred to AHPRA by the NSW Heath Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), alleging that Mr Citer had been holding himself out as a registered psychologist.
The charge related to Mr Citer’s use of the title ‘Specialist Child, Adolescent and Family Psychologist’ in emails to a registered psychologist regarding a mutual client.
On 6 December 2017, a second charge was filed against Mr Citer alleging he provided an AHPRA inspector with a document containing information that he knew was false or misleading in a material detail. Mr Citer provided copies of emails to the inspector which were not true copies, but had been altered so that the title ‘psychologist’ no longer appeared in his signature block.
In February 2018 Mr Citer entered guilty pleas to both charges. On 9 May 2018 a Magistrate convicted Mr Citer of both charges and imposed a fine of $8000 on the first charge and $1500 on the second. He was ordered to pay legal costs to AHPRA of $5000.
AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the court outcome demonstrates the regulator’s work is helping to protect patients across Australia from those who pose as registered health practitioners.
‘To pretend to be a registered psychologist and make false claims to the public is serious misconduct which may put vulnerable people at risk,’ Mr Fletcher said. ‘We remind those seeking treatment to check the national online Register of practitioners to make sure they are visiting a registered health practitioner.'
Psychology Board of Australia (Board) Chair Professor Brin Grenyer said the convictions send a strong message to the community about the requirements of registration.
‘Together with AHPRA, the Board will continue to protect the public by taking action against anyone who claims to be a registered psychologist when they are not,’ he said.
Anyone with concerns about whether an individual holds registration with a national health profession board can check the Register of practitioners maintained by AHPRA online (www.ahpra.gov.au) or contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.