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Tuesday / June 25.
HomeminewsCanberra Doctor Banned for Racist Email to Indigenous Ophthalmologist

Canberra Doctor Banned for Racist Email to Indigenous Ophthalmologist

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

A Canberra doctor has been banned for 12 months, for “culturally unsafe, insulting, and offensive behaviour” towards Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist, Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker (pictured above).

While the banned doctor’s name was suppressed by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Assoc Professor Rallah-Baker asked that his name be released.

“It was important for me that this outcome wasn’t faceless, for people to see they won’t be brought down if they complain about racism, and if they need to reach out, they can,” he said.

“Racism in the healthcare system contributes to patient harm and premature death,” Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker said.

Racism in the healthcare system contributes to patient harm and premature death

The ACT doctor, who is now retired, was referred to the Tribunal by the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) because of an email he sent to Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker, who is a Yuggera, Warangoo, and Wiradjuri man.

The Tribunal’s landmark ruling prohibits the banned doctor from providing any health service and he cannot apply for registration for 12 months.

In a statement, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) said the outcome was in line with a recent strengthening of the National Law, which means that tribunals and other health regulatory decision makers must consider racist and culturally unsafe practices when deciding matters of professional misconduct.

MBA Chair Dr Anne Tonkin said: “The tribunal’s ruling is a clear message that racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour is unlawful and carries substantive penalties, including disqualification from registration.”

“We acknowledge the impact this has had on Assoc Prof Rallah-Baker and his family over the past two years and hope this outcome can help in their healing.”

The tribunal’s full decision was published on by the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal on 24 October 2023.