The Acting Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner, Elizabeth Langdon, has recently issued a Prohibition Order against Mr Victor Bennett of Melton South, in the State of Victoria.

Mr Bennett is a general health service provider who provides psychotherapy and counselling services. The Prohibition Order is made pursuant to section 95 of the Health Complaints Act 2016 (the Act). Mr Bennett, as a general health service provider is subject to the Code of Conduct (the Code) under the Act. The Code sets the minimum legal standards to support the provision of safe and ethical healthcare in Victoria.

On information received in 2020, the previous Health Complaints Commissioner launched an investigation into Mr Bennett. Several Interim Prohibition Orders followed while the investigation was underway, to ensure that there was sufficient time to gather information and collate evidence. The investigation found that Mr Bennett had attempted to obtain a professional qualification, to which he was not entitled, by alleging he held various qualifications. The investigation found that in his application he had not provided truthful information about the qualifications he held and had supported it with documents that were not genuine. Under the Code, clause 9, the general health service provider must not misinform their clients and in particular must provide truthful information as to the provider’s qualifications, training or professional affiliations.

“The public has a right to expect that providers will be truthful about the qualifications they hold. Providers who attempt to obtain a qualification they are not entitle to hold breach that trust and put the public at serious risk if they are practising beyond their qualifications and competency” stated Ms Langdon. “The aim of all our investigations is to establish the facts and identify if any measures should be taken to protect the public from serious risks to their health, safety or welfare” Having considered the evidence, the Acting Commissioner reasonably believes that Mr Bennett has contravened the General Code of Conduct applying to general health service providers and that it is now necessary to enforce a Prohibition Order to avoid a serious risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public.

The Prohibition Order permanently bans Mr Bennett from providing any general health service. Prohibition Orders are important powers for the Commissioner where there is a serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the public and prohibiting all, or part of the general health service, is necessary to avoid that risk.

The Prohibition Order also stipulates that Mr Bennett must not directly or indirectly advertise, offer, provide, establish, direct or otherwise operate any business that offers a general health service, paid or otherwise, in a clinical or non-clinical capacity. OFFICIAL Most general health service providers comply with their obligations under the Code of Conduct and do the right thing. However, the actions of those providers who do not, such as Mr Bennett, can result in serious harm to the public. “That is why it is important for any person considering engaging with general health service providers to give great consideration as to what can go wrong, and what they have a right to expect from their provider, so they can make fully informed decisions.”

“We rely on community members to come forward with their concerns so that we are aware of possible breaches of the Code. If your expectations for safe and ethical healthcare are not met, or if you believe a health service provider is operating outside the Code of Conduct for general health services, please contact us via our online complaint form or email us at [email protected].” We continue to monitor all health service providers to ensure they meet their obligations under the Health Complaints Act 2016.

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