22 Sep 2021
A tribunal has reprimanded and suspended a nurse after he published ‘disgraceful’ content about women on social media.
In May 2018, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) received a notification in relation to a registered nurse’s conduct on social media and started an investigation.
In May 2020, the NMBA took immediate action against Mr Lode Emmanuel Palle to suspend his registration, having formed the reasonable belief that the action was in the public interest. In summary, the allegation against Mr Palle was that he had engaged in professional misconduct between December 2017 and April 2018, in that he:
In August 2020 the NMBA referred Mr Palle to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal).
Mr Palle admitted the social media conduct. In submissions, counsel for Mr Palle noted that the posts were made to a closed ‘pickup artist’ group of Facebook and suggested that the conduct described in the posts was an exaggerated account of what had occurred. In reaching its decision, the tribunal emphasised that the determinations only concern the posting of the material, not the underlying conduct described in the posts.
The tribunal observed that the material encouraged manipulative, coercive and misogynistic behaviour. The tribunal was particularly concerned by the posts which described attempts to overcome explicit non-consent of women to sexual activity.
The tribunal noted that: ‘For a nurse to have become involved in the group and publish material describing purported sexual activity, share images of those women and post inappropriate, offensive, sexually offensive and vilifying content on social media is disgraceful and risks the reputation of the profession.’
The tribunal observed that Mr Palle’s posts were contrary to the NMBA’s Social Media Policy, whether published to a small private group or the world at large.
The tribunal took into consideration, among other things, Mr Palle’s cooperation, admissions and steps toward rehabilitation, and the period Mr Palle had already spent out of practice. Mr Palle had attended counselling, an ethics course at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, a Men’s Behaviour Change Program and written a reflective report.
On 22 July 2021, the tribunal ordered that Mr Palle be reprimanded and that his registration be suspended until 21 January 2022.
The tribunal observed that the further period of suspension (resulting in a total of 20 months out of practice) was ‘appropriate to ensure the Mr Palle and members of the profession were in no doubt conduct of this kind will not be tolerated.’
The tribunal’s decision was published on 31 August 2021 and is available on the Austlii website.