Drug and alcohol counsellor Robert Frank Mittiga, who also uses the alias Robert Frank and Roberto Cialdini when advertising his services in Victoria, has been sentenced to a five-month jail term in the Adelaide Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching a prohibition order issued by the South Australian Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner in 2015.
Mr Mittiga also pleaded guilty to breaching a bond imposed by the Adelaide Magistrates’ Court in 2016.
He received a five-month jail term, reduced to three months and two weeks owing to the guilty plea. The sentence was wholly suspended upon Mr Mittiga entering into a 12-month good behaviour bond.
In sentencing him, the Magistrate referred to Mr Mittiga’s “wilful disobedience” of the order and that imprisonment was the only appropriate disposition to deter Mr Mittiga and protect the public.
Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack issued a Victorian prohibition order against Mr Mittiga earlier this year, permanently banning him from providing any general health services in Victoria after it was found he misled the public by advertising drug and alcohol counselling via social media under his two aliases.
At the time of advertising his services, Mr Mittiga was subject to the 2015 South Australian prohibition order and had also been convicted previously for practising in Victoria while banned in South Australia.
In April 2018 Mr Mittiga was convicted in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court under section 102 of the Health Complaints Act 2016, which gives the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) power to prosecute prohibition orders imposed in other states if the provider practises in Victoria.
The court ordered Mr Mittiga to pay a $10,000 fine, $4000 compensation to the complainant and the HCC’s legal costs.
“The Health Complaints Act 2016 permits me to share the making of interim or permanent prohibition orders with the other health complaints commissioners throughout Australia. I’ll continue to share such orders and work with other commissioners to ensure providers aren’t hopping across borders in an attempt to avoid bans issued in their home state,” Ms Cusack said.
“Continuing to provide services in contravention of a prohibition order shows a blatant disregard for the health, safety and welfare of the public, which is why providers who breach these orders are subject to severe penalties, such as fines and imprisonment.
“The safety of Victorians is our number one priority and we will continue to investigate and, where appropriate, impose prohibition orders on those general health service providers who do the wrong thing and put the Victorian public at risk.
“I encourage the public to check our website at hcc.vic.gov.au to make themselves aware of providers who are subject to prohibition orders under the Health Complaints Act.
“If you become aware of a provider practising despite being issued with a prohibition order please contact the HCC on 1300 582 113.”