Bogus beauty trainer must pay $671,000

Donna Harrison displayed bogus qualifications in hairdressing and training, a court has found.
Donna Harrison displayed bogus qualifications in hairdressing and training, a court has found.

A dishonest businesswoman who used bogus qualifications to offer hairdressing, cosmetic tattoo and other beauty courses has been ordered to pay almost $700,000 in penalties and costs.

Donna Amanda Harrison, also known as Donna Amanda Hawthorn, was last year found to have contravened the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 134 times between January 2015 and July 2016.

Either directly or through her Glow Salon business, Harrison offered to provide VET courses, used and displayed bogus VET qualifications, issued documents purporting to be genuine statements of attainment or qualifications and made false representations about the courses.

In the Federal Court on Friday, Justice Melissa Perry imposed penalties totalling $571,000 and ordered Harrison to pay $100,000 of the Commonwealth's legal costs.

Harrison's deception included falsely labelling her training "accredited" and "nationally recognised" and displaying bogus qualifications in hairdressing and training.

"These features of Ms Harrison's conduct mean that this is a case where a particularly strong message is required to be given by the penalty in order to deter those who might otherwise be minded to contravene the NVR Act in a dishonest, deliberate, and persistent way," the judge said.

Four of Harrison's victims gave "compelling" evidence regarding their financial loss, with one losing more than $5000.

They spoke of their disappointment and stress on discovering they had been misled and of the loss of time and effort invested in training in bogus courses.

The courses Harrison offered included beauty treatments such as manicures, pedicures, and waxing; cosmetic tattooing; intense pulsed light and laser safety protocols; hairdressing and barbering; massage therapy and remedial massage; ear piercing and maintaining infection control standards in office practice settings.

The Commonwealth had referred in court to the importance of qualified training being given to those partaking in physical contact, often involving chemicals, lasers and sharp instruments.

Australian Associated Press