Tribunal disqualifies former nurse after theft from employer

22 Sep 2021

A tribunal has reprimanded a former nurse and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for one year after she stole at least $10,000 from her employer. 

Ms Melissa Louise Barnes was previously employed as a nurse and administration coordinator at an aged care facility. One of her duties was to bank the takings from the café at the facility. Over nine months from October 2017 to July 2018, Ms Barnes failed to bank the café takings and instead kept those takings for herself. The estimated total is at least $10,000.

On 1 April 2019, Ms Barnes appeared at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and pleaded guilty to theft. There was no conviction, but the court made a Community Correction Order for 18 months that required her to complete 100 hours of community work, and to undergo a mental health assessment and treatment.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) referred Ms Barnes to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal). On 23 August 2021, the tribunal found that Ms Barnes’ conduct constituted professional misconduct and ordered that:

  • Ms Barnes is reprimanded, and 
  • Ms Barnes is disqualified for applying for registration as a health practitioner for a period of 12 months.

The tribunal took into account, among other things, Ms Barnes’ personal circumstances including her mental health and that she has already been out of the profession for more than two years, having allowed her registration to lapse in May 2019.

However, the tribunal also considered the need for deterrence and that the conduct was a serious breach of trust, which was sustained over a period of 9 months and resulted in criminal charges.

The tribunal’s decision was published on 23 August 2021 on Austlii

 
 
Page reviewed 22/09/2021