02 Mar 2023
A tribunal has ordered the cancellation of a nurse’s registration following his conviction of aggravated assault of a patient in a psychiatric ward.
Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article distressing. If you are experiencing distress, please visit the NM Support website or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help.
In December 2018, registered nurse Mr Ikani Finau tackled a patient to the ground when they made verbal threats towards members of the nursing staff, including Mr Finau’s wife.
Mr Finau overheard the threats and attempted to escort the patient back to their room. The patient resisted and Mr Finau lowered his body and charged the patient in a rugby-style tackle, lifting the patient and throwing them to the floor. Mr Finau then jumped to his feet and dragged the patient along the floor for approximately 13 metres to the patient’s bedroom. As the patient was being dragged, their pants fell down, exposing their side and buttocks to the floor surface. The patient ended up with grazing, pain and bruising because of the assault.
Mr Finau was subsequently charged by police and in December 2019 pleaded guilty and was convicted of aggravated assault and was placed on a good behaviour bond for 12 months. Mr Finau failed to report this charge or conviction to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) as required under the National Law.
The NMBA referred Mr Finau to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal).
During the investigation, Mr Finau provided an eight-page document where he essentially admitted the allegations. He also appeared at a compulsory conference in March 2021, however he declined to participate further in the Tribunal proceedings.
The Tribunal found that Mr Finau had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that Mr Finau:
The Tribunal stated that Mr Finau’s conduct required that his registration be cancelled to remind him and other practitioners the seriousness of the offence. The Tribunal noted that Mr Finau presumably acted in part out of concern for his wife’s safety and had apologised to the patient. Given that the act was considered out of character, he will be able to re-apply for registration in six months.
The tribunal’s decision was published on 10 February 2023 and is available on the Austlii website.