Public Statement in relation to Mr Robert Ferguson (Bray-Ferguson)

03 Aug 2017

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission conducted an investigation into the conduct of Robert Ferguson (Bray-Ferguson), a non-registered health practitioner providing counselling services as a qualified social worker in Grafton. The conduct under investigation was his care and treatment of an extremely vulnerable and traumatised client (Client A) between 2012 and 2016 and his involvement in an improper close personal and sexual relationship with her while she remained his client.

The investigation found that Mr Ferguson entered into an improper close personal and sexual relationship with Client A while they remained in a therapeutic relationship, in breach of the Code of Conduct for non-registered health practitioners [Schedule 3, Public Health Regulation 2012]. It found that Mr Ferguson completely violated his position of trust and power as a counsellor and took advantage of a particularly vulnerable woman 25 years his junior, who suffered from significant mental illness including debilitating post traumatic symptoms for which he had provided counselling over an extended period. The investigation found that he placed his own needs above those of his client, occasioning her serious and ongoing harm.

The investigation found that Mr Ferguson manifestly failed to exercise what was solely his responsibility, namely, to set and maintain clear professional boundaries. It found that Mr Ferguson instead engaged in boundary crossing that commenced with his encouragement of a father/daughter type relationship with Client A. This boundary crossing involved improper personal disclosures on his part, manifested itself in improper physical affection, online, text message and social contact and culminated in trips away to Sydney in June and July 2016 where they shared hotel rooms and engaged in sexual contact.

The investigation found that Mr Ferguson’s use of the technique of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing [EMDR] in counselling sessions with Client A was unsafe and unethical and therefore in breach of the Code of Conduct. The investigation found that Mr Ferguson had minimal training in the appropriate therapeutic use of EMDR, that he persisted with it in the face of obvious distress and a lack of therapeutic benefit for Client A and did so for his own gratification. The investigation found that Mr Ferguson failed to complete contemporaneous records for most of the many counselling sessions he engaged in with Client A between 2012 and 2016, in breach of the Code of Conduct. The investigation found Mr Ferguson’s conduct constitutes an extremely serious breach of trust, has further and significantly compromised the mental health of an extremely vulnerable client and has damaged his profession’s integrity and good standing.

Despite the weight of objective evidence, including incriminating text messages and emails between himself and Client A, Mr Ferguson continued to deny that the relationship between them ever became sexual. The investigation found that Mr Ferguson sought to deceive the Commission with changeable, false and misleading evidence. It found that his lack of credit and insight and his habitual deflection of blame onto others and in particular Client A, mean that he poses a risk to public health and safety.

The Commission therefore makes the following prohibition order:

Robert Ferguson (Bray-Ferguson) is permanently prohibited from providing any health service on a paid or voluntary basis.

The Commission has determined not to make its Statement of Decision public as it contains highly personal and sensitive information. 

Further Information

See the related prohibition order here

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at

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