14 Aug 2019
A previously registered occupational therapist has been reprimanded by a tribunal after being found to have engaged in professional misconduct when forging his supervisor’s signature.
The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (the Board) filed allegations against Mr Ricardo Cornelio with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in March 2018. The Board alleged that Mr Cornelio had submitted documents to the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (the Council) which contained forged signatures. The Council is the accreditation authority for the Board and was responsible for the oversight of Mr Cornelio’s period of supervised practice.
Mr Cornelio is an overseas-trained occupational therapist. The Board granted him limited registration as an occupational therapist in June 2016. His registration was subject to conditions including that he only practise with the supervision of a Board approved supervisor and that he submits a supervision log and midway progress report.
Mr Cornelio submitted the supervision log and midway progress report to the Council on 1 November 2016, but he had forged his supervisor’s signature on both documents. Mr Cornelio’s supervisor was then copied into an email from the Council requesting another version of the midway progress report. Once this email was sent by the Council and when pressed by his supervisor, Mr Cornelio admitted he had forged the signatures to both his supervisor and the Council. The Board became aware of the forgeries almost immediately.
In an email sent to the Council and his supervisor on 2 November 2016, Mr Cornelio admitted to the forgery and advised that he had done it because he was afraid of not getting it done in time. He apologised for his actions and said that it would not happen again.
On 7 June 2017, Mr Cornelio allowed his registration to lapse because, not having complied with the Council’s requirements, there was no value in continuing to maintain limited registration.
On 29 March 2018 the Board filed a notice of allegations with the tribunal which outlined the Board’s belief that Mr Cornelio had engaged in professional misconduct in forging his supervisor’s signature and submitting the false and/or misleading documents to the Council.
By the time of the tribunal hearing, 3 December 2018, both the Board and Mr Cornelio had agreed that his forgeries amounted to professional misconduct as defined under the National Law1. At the time of the hearing, Mr Cornelio remained unregistered.
The tribunal found that Mr Cornelio’s forging of a supervisor’s signature ‘did not demonstrate the moral integrity and rectitude of character expected of a registered occupational therapist’ and reprimanded Mr Cornelio for the conduct.
As Mr Cornelio was unregistered at the time of the hearing, the tribunal found that it was appropriate in the circumstances to disqualify Mr Cornelio from seeking registration for a period of three months and commented that a period of disqualification (including his nine months spent unable to practice already) would ‘serve as a warning to other occupational therapists that dishonest conduct may carry significant and adverse consequences for their professional standing and practice’.
Read the full decision on the tribunal’s website.