19 Apr 2018

Drug & alcohol counsellor convicted for operating illegally

A banned drug addiction counsellor has been convicted for providing services illegally in Victoria.

Robert Frank Mittiga (aka Robert Frank) was convicted and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, $4,000 compensation to the complainant and legal costs to the HCC at Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court today for providing counselling services in Victoria, in breach of a ban.

In 2015, South Australia’s Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner banned Mr Mittiga from providing any health service after an investigation found he posed an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the public.

Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said it was the first time she’d used new powers to prosecute prohibition orders imposed in other states if the practitioner provides their services in Victoria.

“Mr Mittiga was banned from practising for good reason. If he or any other health service provider think they can ignore those orders just by hopping jurisdiction then they are sorely mistaken,” Ms Cusack said.

“This should send a clear message that we will not stand for dangerous or unethical providers banned in other parts of Australia simply coming to Victoria to endanger vulnerable clients here. It also sends a clear message that the Courts recognise the seriousness of these offences.”

The HCC was alerted to the breach through a complaint about the poor quality of service Mr Mittiga had provided to a Melbourne client in 2017.

The prosecution and conviction comes as the HCC launches a sector-wide investigation into private drug and alcohol services across the state.

If you have quality or safety concerns about a private drug and alcohol service, or any other health service in Victoria, contact us on 1300 582 113.

The HCC began operation on 1 February 2017 to resolve complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria, as well as to investigate dangerous or unethical providers.

From this date a general code of conduct applies to all general health service providers, meaning those not regulated by AHPRA and including drug and alcohol counsellors. The code outlines the standards of safe and ethical healthcare and, if breached, provides grounds for a complaint and possible further action including prohibition orders and public warning statements.