Tribunal reprimands nurse over child pornography

19 Sep 2016

A registered nurse who accessed child pornography has been reprimanded by a tribunal and had conditions placed on his registration.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found that in accessing and possessing child pornography over a period of approximately four years, registered nurse Mr Peter William Omant engaged in professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct of a serious nature.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) had referred Mr Omant to the tribunal after he pleaded guilty in the Geelong County Court to criminal charges relating to child pornography.

The tribunal found that, in accessing and possessing child pornography over a period of approximately four years outside of the workplace, Mr Omant had brought discredit upon himself and upon the nursing profession.

The tribunal noted that patients are entitled to expect the highest professional and moral standards from health practitioners and that Mr Omant’s conduct constituted a departure from those standards.

Mr Omant was reprimanded and conditions imposed on his nursing registration. In summary, Mr Omant must:

  • complete psychotherapeutic counselling
  • submit to random breath testing for alcohol during his first two years of employment as nurse
  • never engage in care of a child or person under the age of 18 years old
  • be restricted from working any shift 6.00pm to 7.30am for a period of two years from the date of the orders (12 October 2015)
  • inform the NMBA in writing within five business days of gaining employment as a nurse, and
  • provide to his employer or any relevant nursing agency a copy of the orders dated 3 July 2015 and 12 October 2015.

The tribunal initially heard this matter on 15 August 2013. However, the tribunal had handed down its findings and determinations, including a 12 month suspension of Mr Omant’s registration, without giving the parties an opportunity to make submissions on the determinations.

Mr Omant applied to the Supreme Court of Victoria to have the tribunal’s decision set aside on the basis
that the tribunal had made an error of law and this application was successful. This meant the matter was referred back to a new tribunal to hear the matter from the start again.

The findings from the second tribunal were the same as those made by the previous tribunal as set out above. The tribunal recognised that Mr Omant had effectively been suspended from practising as a registered nurse for a period of five years.

The tribunal stated Mr Omant’s continuing pattern was more than a lack of judgment over an extended period and called into question his fitness to practise, despite the offending conduct not taking place in the workplace.

Referring to the material accessed and possessed by Mr Omant, the tribunal made reference to the abuse of children and the harm caused to them in the production of such material and in doing so Mr Omant had failed to recognise his obligation to prevent harm as a registered nurse.

The tribunal reprimanded Mr Omant and imposed conditions on his registration designed to assist his transition back into the profession while at the same time ensuring there is no risk to the health and safety of the public.

The reasons for tribunal’s decisions on July 2015 and October 2015 are listed on the AustLII website.

 
 
Page reviewed 19/09/2016