20 Feb 2019

Counsellor previously convicted for operating in Victoria issued with temporary ban while under investigation

Banned drug and alcohol addiction counsellor Robert Frank Mittiga has been issued with an interim prohibition order while the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) investigates a complaint alleging he recently breached the code of conduct for general health service providers in Victoria.


Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said the interim prohibition order banned Mr Mittiga, also known as Robert Frank and/or Roberto Cialdini, from advertising, offering or providing any general health service in Victoria, paid or otherwise and in a clinical or non-clinical capacity, while the investigation was conducted.


In April 2018 Mr Mittiga appeared in Broadmeadows Magistrates Court and was convicted under Section 102 of the Health Complaints Act 2016, which makes interstate orders prosecutable in Victoria, for providing a health service in Victoria that he was banned from providing in South Australia.


“Mr Mittiga was banned from practising in South Australia 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 following the conviction.


He was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, $4000 compensation to the complainant and legal costs to the HCC.


Ms Cusack said the interim prohibition order issued against Mr Mittiga would remain in force until 29 April 2019 while the investigation was conducted, unless varied or revoked.


“Prior to the enactment of the Health Complaints Act 2016, counsellors were not subject to any regulations specific to the provision of health services,” Ms Cusack said.


“Under the Act counsellors are now subject to a code of conduct and must provide safe and ethical healthcare. They can’t mislead clients about their services or qualifications or exploit them financially.


“People utilising the services of drug and alcohol addiction counsellors are at extremely vulnerable points in the lives.


“Often they have family or friends assisting with the financial costs of treatment and are desperately battling to beat what can be terribly damaging and destructive addictions.


“All Victorians deserve safe and ethical healthcare from every health service they use. The code of conduct is in place to protect Victorians and I will not tolerate providers who breach it, particularly those who take advantage of people at the most vulnerable times of their life.”