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Australia cracks down on ‘fake’ doctors

'Fake' doctors in Australia could face up to three years in jail as well as a massive $60,000 fine. Source: Getty
'Fake' doctors in Australia could face up to three years in jail as well as a massive $60,000 fine. Source: Getty

From today onwards, if you claim to be a doctor - and you’re not one - you could face a three-year jail term, along with a whopping $60,000 fine.

The new laws in effect from today mean the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) can impose tougher penalties - with the $60,000 fine more than double the previous $28,000 fine.

The AHPRA is taking aim at any individual who falsely claims they’re a medical practitioner, psychologist, dentist, pharmacist, chiropractor, podiatrist or optometrist, without the proper qualifications.

According to SBS, Australia has seen more than 50 cases of people pretending to be a health practitioner in the last five years.

The most recent successful prosecution of a fake doctor was in July last year, where APRA prosecuted Raffaele Di Paolo for purporting to be a registered obstetrician and gynaecologist. ‘

Di Paolo had no tertiary qualifications, but still claimed to be a fertility specialist - and did so for more than a decade, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from around 30 victims.

The con man used a needle to remove semen from a man’s testicles without anaesthetic, and injected homeopathic substances into women’s stomachs and buttocks, SBS reported.

Di Paolo was jailed, but the AHPRA was only able to impose a $28,000 fine, prompting a law change.

The amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law were initially passed by Queensland earlier this year, but were then broadened near-nationally - with Western Australia the only state yet to adopt the laws.

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