A retired doctor has been banned from practicing medicine over racist comments towards Australia’s first Indigenous eye surgeon and a child patient.
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the doctor, whose name was suppressed, committed professional misconduct after he made offensive comments about Indigenous Australians.
“This conduct is unbecoming of a physician and, in our view, has the potential to bring the reputation of the medical profession into disrepute,” the court noted.
A retired doctor has been banned from practicing medicine for racist comments against Australia’s first Indigenous eye surgeon and a child patient
In one case, a couple brought their four-year-old into their office.
The doctor questioned the child’s parentage and denied the parents access to an indigenous medicine care system.
He also sent a racist email to Yuggera, Warangoo and Wiradjuri ophthalmologist Kris Rallah-Baker, whom he did not know and had never met.
In his email, he disputed the surgeon’s ancestry and accused him of using his identity to exploit First Nations programs.
When the health authority opened an investigation into the incident, the doctor said the authority’s board was “a bunch of idiots” and questioned the legitimacy of Dr. Rallah-Baker in question.
He continued his tirade over the next few days, calling the watchdog “a Gestapo” and making other discriminatory comments toward the ophthalmologist.
When the tribunal compiled its findings, Dr. Rallah-Baker specifically asked for his name to be mentioned.
“It was important to me that this outcome was not faceless, so that people saw that they were not being pressured if they complained about racism, and if they needed to come forward, they could do so,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
In its final decision, the tribunal ruled that the doctor would be barred from practicing medicine for 12 months and recommended that restrictions be imposed should he reapply.
“We note that the defendant’s comments in the email he sent to Dr. Rallah-Baker treated him less favorably than other people because of his racial background,” the court said.
The doctor sent a racist email to respected surgeon Dr. Kris Rallah-Baker (pictured) and denied Dr. Rallah-Baker’s indigenous origins
The doctor resigned in August 2022 and surrendered his license a year later.
Since then he has contacted the supervisory authority employee and Dr. Rallah Baker apologizes.
However, the court said he had shown no real remorse. A supplementary report described him as having a “personality with cognitive rigidity and difficulty understanding others’ emotional reactions to his actions.”
Martin Fletcher, head of the health regulator, said it was a groundbreaking result that supported efforts to eliminate racism in the health service.
“These reforms are based on undisputed evidence that racism in all its forms – systemic, institutional and interpersonal – is harmful.”
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