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Tribunal disqualifies nurse for five years for repeated sexual harassment

26 Mar 2024

A tribunal has disqualified a registered nurse from re-applying for registration for five years after he continually sexually harassed a work colleague for seven months.

Between June 2020 to February 2021, Mr Andrew Atkins touched or exposed his penis on multiple occasions in the presence of a work colleague while sharing desks adjacent to each other at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. When the frequency and seriousness of Mr Atkins’ conduct escalated around 15 December 2020, his colleague told him his behaviour needed to stop. Mr Atkins’ behaviour resumed in early 2021 and he was reported to a manager on 19 April 2021.

Mr Atkins did not challenge the facts supporting the alleged conduct filed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and did not provide any explanation or statement of apology. His last shift was on 20 April 2021, and he surrendered his nursing registration on 24 May 2021 prior to any immediate action being considered and has not practised since.

On 2 November 2023, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found that Mr Atkins had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that he:

  • be reprimanded,
  • be disqualified from re-applying for registration for five years, and
  • be prohibited from providing any health service until such time as he is re-registered by the NMBA.

The tribunal also ordered Mr Atkins to pay the Board’s costs of the proceeding.

The tribunal noted that Mr Atkins was non-committal and evasive about the details of his conduct, demonstrating a lack of remorse. They also commented that the conduct was ‘abhorrent and highly repugnant’, demonstrating a lack of common decency and respect for work colleagues. They felt a strong need to demonstrate to members of the profession and public that behaviour of this nature is not to be tolerated.The tribunal’s decision was made on 2 November 2023 and is published on the Austlii website.

Page reviewed 26/03/2024