23 Jun 2022
A tribunal has ordered the cancellation of a nurse’s registration following his breach of professional boundaries by misleading international nursing students to believe he could fast track their immigration to Australia.
Between 2011 and 2014 Mr Alexis Alvarez was a registered nurse employed as a nurse educator. During this time, he was a Course Coordinator in the Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses program at the Australian Academy of Nursing.
Mr Alvarez built a rapport with his Filipino students, claiming he could expedite their ANMAC skills assessment and Ahpra registration for a fee. By the end of this period, Mr Alvarez’s company, Nurse Training Enhancement Centre (NTECA), had received over $40,000 from his students for various immigration support or investments that he did not provide.
In June 2019 Mr Alvarez was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria of three counts of asking for or receiving a fee or other reward for giving immigration assistance. Mr Alvarez also failed to give the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the Board) written notice within seven days about the charges and the convictions.
On 2 October 2019, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) proposed to take immediate action by suspending Mr Alvarez’s registration and, on 4 October 2019 Mr Alvarez surrendered his registration.
The NMBA made three separate referrals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal) between 2018 and 2020. VCAT considered the three referrals together, finding that Mr Alvarez had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that Mr Alvarez:
The tribunal agreed with the NMBA’s submission that Mr Alvarez’s conduct involved false representations made for financial gain to vulnerable international students and others who placed their trust in him as a nurse and nurse educator. It further noted 'Mr Alvarez’s conduct, viewed in its entirety, is inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession'.
The tribunal’s decision was published on 26 April 2022 and is available on the Austlii website.