28 Apr 2021
A tribunal has ordered that a nurse’s registration be cancelled following his criminal convictions.
In August 2019, TGA (an enrolled nurse at the time of the criminal and disciplinary proceedings) was convicted in the County Court of Victoria of one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and two charges of indecent act with a child under 16 years.
The criminal convictions were the result of conduct which had occurred in 1991 between TGA, who was 20 years old, and a neighbourhood female friend who was between 12 and 13 years old at the relevant time. They continued in a relationship for approximately 16 years (until January 2007) during which they had a son. In April 2018, about 11 years after the relationship ended, TGA’s former partner made a complaint to police.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred TGA to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal), alleging professional misconduct based on the criminal convictions and TGA’s failure to notify the NMBA within seven days of being charged with offences punishable by more than 12 months imprisonment.
Although not registered with the NMBA at the time of the offending conduct, the tribunal noted that the criminal convictions occurred when TGA was registered as an enrolled nurse with the NMBA.
In finding that TGA had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct, the tribunal considered that the conduct of which TGA was convicted was substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience and that the conduct was inconsistent with TGA being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession.
The tribunal also scrutinised the six-month delay from when TGA was charged with the criminal offences and when he reported the charges to the NMBA. The tribunal considered this significant given the seriousness of the charges and in circumstances where TGA continued to work as a nurse. The tribunal considered that the delay ‘deprived the Board of the ability to exercise its protective function for that period’. Accordingly, the tribunal made a separate finding of professional misconduct for TGA’s failure to report the criminal charges to the NMBA within the legislated timeframe.
The tribunal considered ‘the seriousness of the conduct, as reflected by the criminal outcome, demands that in addition to a reprimand, a period of disqualification from practising must be imposed’ and ordered that:
The tribunal’s decision was published on the Austlii website on 15 April 2021.
Please note that the practitioner’s name has been withheld due to a suppression order.