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Queensland College of Teachers v RGK[2019] QCAT 180

Queensland College of Teachers v RGK[2019] QCAT 180

QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL

CITATION:

Queensland College of Teachers v RGK [2019] QCAT 180

PARTIES:

QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

(applicant)

v

RGK

(respondent)

APPLICATION NO/S:

OCR302-18

MATTER TYPE:

Occupational regulation matters

DELIVERED ON:

2 July 2019

HEARING DATE:

On the Papers

HEARD AT:

Brisbane

DECISION OF:

Member Paratz

Member Kent

Member Ms. Oliver

ORDERS:

  1. A disciplinary ground is established.
  2. RGK is prohibited from re-applying for registration for eight (8) years from the date of this Order.
  3. The Register is to be endorsed with a notation that should RGK re-apply for registration or permission to teach after the expiry of the period of prohibition, that application must include an independent psychological report satisfactory to the Queensland College of Teachers addressing the following:
  1. (a)
    An assessment of RGK’s appreciation of the following:
  1. (i)
    Differentiating between personal and professional relationships;
  2. (ii)
    The legal obligations of teachers and tutors;
  3. (iii)
    Development and maintenance of professional standards when working with young people and actively determining and implementing professional boundaries with individual students;
  4. (iv)
    Risk assessment and early issue identification of potentially problematic situations and venues as well as initiating realistic solutions for avoiding the risk of harm to students;
  5. (v)
    The extent and nature of the student, colleague, parental and community trust inherently invested in a teacher;
  6. (vi)
    Personal and social behaviour that would compromise the professional standing of teaching;
  7. (vii)
    The effect of inappropriate relationships with students;
  8. (viii)
    The trust and power granted to a teacher;
  9. (ix)
    The importance of full adherence to the Queensland College of Teachers code of ethics.
  1. (b)
    An indication from the psychologist about whether the psychologist is satisfied that RGK has adequately understood and addressed the above points.
  2. (c)
    The status of RGK’s current mental health including details of any therapy undertaken since the date of the disciplinary decision.
  3. (d)
    Confirmation that the psychologist was provided with copies of:
  1. (i)
    The Tribunal’s disciplinary decision;
  2. (ii)
    The Queensland College of Teachers referral under section 97 of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld).
  1. RGK must bear all costs of and associated with compliance with the Tribunal’s orders.
  1. Publication of:
  1. a)
    the contents of all documents produced to the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
  2. b)
    all evidence given before the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
  3. c)
    any information that may identify the teacher, the relevant student, the relevant school, staff members, former staff members of the relevant school, parents of students, or former students of the relevant school, any witnesses who gave evidence to the Tribunal, RGK’s daughter, RGK’s wife, and RGK’s mother,

is prohibited under section 66 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld).

CATCHWORDS:

EDUCATION – TRAINING AND REGISTRATION OF TEACHERS – where former approved teacher had sexual relationship with student – where inappropriate sexual material sent to student – where the sexually explicit material was degrading and violent – where sexual relationship was often violent and continued after student left school – whether a ground for disciplinary action exists – where appropriate sanction was discussed

Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld)

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld)

Queensland College of Teachers v WAS [2015] QCAT 61

Queensland College of Teachers v Armstrong [2010] QCAT 709

Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336

REPRESENTATION:

 

Applicant:

Rankin Business Lawyers

Respondent:

Principal Legal Officer, Queensland College of Teachers

APPEARANCES:

This matter was heard and determined on the papers pursuant to s 32 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld).

REASONS FOR DECISION

Background

  1. [1]
    RGK is a male former secondary school teacher, who was first registered as a teacher in 1999. In April 2018 his name was removed from the teaching register due to his failure to pay his yearly subscription fees. His lengthy career as a teacher spanned 19 years.
  2. [2]
    Suggestions of misconduct arose at RGK’s school in relation to him during 2008, and he was disciplined and sanctioned by his Principal. At the time all suggestions of misconduct were denied by the teacher as well as the students involved.
  3. [3]
    RGK was around 37 years old at the time of the misconduct. The relevant student was 17 years old and female.
  4. [4]
    In 2018, after a ten-year time-lapse, the former relevant student contacted police with complaints about her extensive mistreatment by RGK during her Year 12 in 2008 when she was taught Film and Television, and later English, by the teacher. The relationship continued into 2009 following the former student’s graduation from school.
  5. [5]
    The Queensland College of Teachers (‘the QCT’) suspended RGK’s registration on 23 January 2017 under section 49 of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld) (‘the Act’), as it believed that the teacher posed an unacceptable risk of harm to children.
  6. [6]
    The grounds of RGK’s suspension are set out in detail in the Notice of Suspension of Teacher Registration of 15 May 2017. Many of these details are listed in summary form below (with some explicit details redacted for privacy reasons) and serve to underscore the significance of the misconduct being examined in this hearing:
    1. (a)
      RGK was a full-time teacher at the relevant school between January 2006 and his suspension on 15 May 2017;
    2. (b)
      The relevant student was enrolled in 2007 and 2008;
    3. (c)
      In 2007 RGK was the relevant student’s film and television teacher;
    4. (d)
      RGK was the director of a play where the relevant student had a lead role. Rehearsals were held at the relevant school and finished quite late in the evening. It was at this time that Teacher RGK developed the practice of driving the relevant student and another student home from rehearsals;
    5. (e)
      On or about 10 June 2008 the teacher failed to maintain professional boundaries within the teacher-student relationship by kissing the relevant student on the mouth in his parked vehicle whilst in the process of driving her home following rehearsals;
    6. (f)
      The relevant student reported this behaviour to another student on 11 June 2008, who in turn reported the incident to staff members on the same day;
    7. (g)
      On the afternoon of 11 June 2008 RGK sent a number of text messages to the relevant student which read ‘What have you done?’ During a later phone call the teacher expressed anger at the relevant student for telling another student;
    8. (h)
      During an investigation by the relevant school, both RGK and the relevant student denied that he had kissed her. The teacher made this denial in a written statement signed on 15 June 2008;
    9. (i)
      On 20 June 2008, the principal of the relevant school wrote to the Director of the relevant school supervising body advising that following the investigation there was no evidence of physical or sexual impropriety, but that RGK had been instructed not to transport students home in his vehicle, and recommending that the teacher be sanctioned and directed to undertake a professional boundaries program;
    10. (j)
      Following the reporting of the incident, the relevant student felt isolated by her peers and teachers and began to self-harm, as well as repeatedly not attending school;
    11. (k)
      On an unknown date between 30 June 2008 and 1 September 2008, during the production of the play, RGK failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries within the teacher-student relationship by pushing the relevant student up against a wall and kissing her on the mouth;
    12. (l)
      On an unknown date between 30 June 2008 and 1 September 2008 during the production of the play the teacher failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries within the student-teacher relationship by driving the relevant student to a car park and engaging in sexual misconduct with her involving oral sex;             
    13. (m)
      On the following day the teacher failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries within the teacher-student relationship by directing the relevant student to set up an email account to engage in electronic communication with the teacher. The teacher eventually began sending pornographic images and videos to this account, including violent sexual images;
    14. (n)
      The teacher failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries within the teacher-student relationship by having sexual intercourse with the relevant student:
      1. (i)
        On an unknown date between 5 October 2008 and 27 October 2008, during the production of the play. This incident upset the relevant student and she self-harmed;
      1. (ii)
        On at least three (3) particular occasions on unknown dates between 27 October 2008 and 10 December 2009, prior to the relevant student’s graduation. During these occasions the teacher used force on the relevant student;
      1. (iii)
        On at least five (5) particular occasions on unknown dates between 10 December 2008 and 1 January 2009 following the relevant student’s graduation;
      1. (iv)
        On an unknown date between 31 December 2008 and 1 January 2010, during which the teacher and the relevant former student used sado-masochistic sex aids which the teacher had brought;
      1. (v)
        On an unknown date between 31 December 2008 and 1 January 2010, during which the teacher engaged in ‘rough sex’ with the relevant former student. During this incident the teacher continued to have sex with the relevant former student despite her crying, and she subsequently sustained vaginal bleeding, a swollen lip and bruises to her arms;
    15. (o)
      The relevant former student has reported that, having suffered a nervous breakdown in 2015, she saw a psychologist between September 2015 until November 2016 and that upon reflection she ‘never consented [to] or liked the rough sex or violent pornography’ and considers that she was taken advantage of whilst she was at school and under the teacher’s care and responsibility.
  7. [7]
    The QCT filed the following documents on which the decision for suspension was based:
    1. (a)
      The statement of the former relevant student to New South Wales police;[1]
    2. (b)
      The letter dated 20 June 2008 from the Principal of the relevant school to the relevant school supervising body;[2]
    3. (c)
      The document entitled ‘Allegation of inappropriate behaviour against [RGK] with Annexures’.[3]
  8. [8]
    RGK’s suspension was considered by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘QCAT’) (‘the Tribunal’) on 5 July 2017, and an order was made that the suspension be continued. RGK did not take the opportunity to make submissions to the Tribunal in response to the suspension continuation application generally, but RGK did make submissions regarding non-publication orders which were taken into consideration.
  9. [9]
    The QCT subsequently conducted an investigation of all the particulars. RGK advised the QCT through his solicitors that he would not be providing written or oral submissions following the conduct of the investigation.
  10. [10]
    The QCT investigation concluded in July 2018, but the teacher had already been removed from the Register of Teachers on 3 April 2018 due to non-payment of annual registration fees.
  11. [11]
    All findings from the QCT investigation were forwarded to the Tribunal through the QCT referral to QCAT on 19 November 2018.
  12. [12]
    The initial directions for this matter were issued by the Tribunal on 29 November 2018. The teacher was given an opportunity to provide further submissions to the Tribunal, but this was once again declined, and his Solicitors repeated his non-publication request.
  13. [13]
    Consent orders sought by the QCT and the teacher regarding the conduct of the matter were made by the Tribunal on 3 January 2019.

Legislative Framework

  1. [14]
    In matters such as this disciplinary proceeding, the standard of proof of evidence is based on the case of Briginshaw v Briginshaw, where the appropriate standard is the reasonable satisfaction of the decision-maker with that degree of satisfaction varying according to the gravity of the fact to be proved.[4] The allegations in this matter are serious and will be examined in this light.
  2. [15]
    Schedule 3 of the Act states that a relevant teacher means an ‘approved teacher’, or a ‘former approved teacher’, and that an ‘approved teacher’ is one who holds registration or permission to teach. RGK was an ‘approved teacher’ and a relevant teacher at the time of the misconduct[5] in 2008 and 2009. He has since become a ‘former approved teacher’.
  3. [16]
    Section 92 of the Act sets out the grounds for disciplinary action in practice and conduct matters. Numerous grounds are listed including:

the person behaves in such a way, whether connected with the teaching profession or otherwise, that does not satisfy the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher.[6]

‘Standard of behaviour’ is not defined in the Act but has been addressed by the Tribunal in a previous matter:

…the standard expected should be the standard ‘reasonably’ expected by the community at large, as the actions of a teacher may impact directly on the children of the community; and this in turn should reflect the standard that those in the teaching profession would expect of their colleagues and peers.[7]

  1. [17]
    The QCT believes that a ground for disciplinary action exists and that this is not a QCT practice and conduct matter. The referral to QCAT has been made under section 97 of the Act.
  2. [18]
    The issues for the Tribunal are whether a ground for disciplinary action against the teacher is established under section 158 of the Act, and if so, the appropriate action to be taken against the teacher.[8]
  3. [19]
    The QCT has referred the Tribunal to previous matters dealt with by the Tribunal which illustrate consideration of the protection of students from harm and as to not harming students.
  4. [20]
    ‘Harm’ is defined in the Act as follows:[9]
  1. (1)
    Harm, to a child, is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing.
  2. (2)
    It is immaterial how the harm is caused.
  3. (3)
    Harm can be caused by
  1. a)
    physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect; or
  2. b)
    sexual abuse or exploitation.
  1. (4)
    Harm can be caused by –
  1. a)
    a single act, omission or circumstance; or
  2. b)
    a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.
  1. [21]
    As stated previously in the Tribunal, the question to be considered is whether there is an identifiable risk of harm, and whether the risk is ‘acceptable’.[10]
  2. [22]
    There is an expectation that teachers will act professionally with students at all times, and in addition to building a rapport with students, teachers must maintain appropriate professional boundaries:

Teachers are always in a professional relationship with their students whether in school or non-school settings. Although certain behaviours, when first commenced, may not breach the boundaries of a professional teacher-student relationship, these behaviours may progress incrementally to a point that could result in a breach of professional boundaries. This can be a particular risk for teachers who:

  • Have a ‘dual’ personal/professional relationship with the student outside the school, including, for example, being the student’s sports coach or instructor in other extra-curricular activities that the student may be involved in.[11]
  1. [23]
    Following on from this guideline, the Tribunal found in Queensland College of Teachers v SGS, that:[12]

the teacher’s relationship with their student is a professional one and all of the contact between teacher and student has an educational context and does not in particular, become sexualised.

  1. [24]
    The Tribunal has handed down many decisions addressing the inappropriateness of sexual relationships between teachers and students, and has discussed at length the standards and ethical principles that such behaviour breaches.
  2. [25]
    The Tribunal has also considered numerous cases involving relationships between teachers and former students. In Queensland College of Teachers v FDA,[13] the Tribunal found:

The timing of the sexual relationship between Teacher FDA and the relevant student is important because there is a power imbalance that exists which takes time to dissipate as well as professional boundaries and standards expected of a teacher that extend beyond students completion of secondary school.

Is a ground for disciplinary action established?

  1. [26]
    The QCT notes that RGK engaged in sexualised conduct with one of his (then) Year 12 students, including having sexual intercourse with her on numerous occasions including at her home and in his car. He continued to engage in this conduct for approximately six months following her graduation. RGK’s conduct also involved inappropriate communication with the student, including sending her violent pornographic images and videos, and having violent/‘rough’ sex with her.[14]
  2. [27]
    The student admired and respected RGK. He exploited and misused the trust she placed in him, along with the trust of the whole community. RGK manipulated the student, knowing her desire to know about the field of work of acting, and having reference to his past acting experience and training. He played on her youth, family circumstances, and lack of life experience, and therefore her vulnerability.
  3. [28]
    The QCT submits, and the Tribunal agrees, that this behaviour falls well below the standard of behaviour generally expected of a teacher by the community, and by members of the teaching profession.
  4. [29]
    The Tribunal finds that a ground for disciplinary action under section 92(1)(h) of the Act is established.

What is the appropriate sanction?

  1. [30]
    The Act requires that making an assessment of conduct relies on keeping in mind the welfare and best interests of children.[15] The Tribunal is required to additionally take into account the objects of the Act which are:
    1. (a)
      to uphold the standards of the teaching profession;
    2. (b)
      to maintain public confidence in the teaching profession; and
    3. (c)
      to protect the public by ensuring education in schools is provided in a professional and competent way by approved teachers.[16]
  2. [31]
    There is always a need for deterrence of serious administrative misconduct. This means:[17]

General deterrence to the teaching profession and specific deterrence to further irresponsible conduct by the teacher in question.

  1. [32]
    Together with the principles set out above, the Tribunal notes further factors in deciding the appropriate sanction as submitted by the QCT.[18] These factors include:
    1. (a)
      the nature and context of the behaviour;
    2. (b)
      the impact the behaviour may have had on other students, the school and the community;
    3. (c)
      what actions the teacher has taken to remedy the situation;
    4. (d)
      the teacher’s age and the age of the relevant student /former student at the time of the misconduct;
    5. (e)
      the teacher’s level of experience and teaching record;
    6. (f)
      the level of insight the teacher may have had regarding the conduct;
    7. (g)
      the level of remorse expressed by the teacher in numerous settings; and
    8. (h)
      the teacher’s participation and cooperation in the investigation and disciplinary process.
  2. [33]
    Each matter is to be considered separately, as noted in Queensland College of Teachers v WAS:[19]

Ultimately, of course, each case turns on its own facts.

  1. [34]
    The Tribunal accepts the QCT submissions that the following aggravating features should additionally be considered in determining the sanction in this matter:[20]
    1. (a)
      RGK was an experienced teacher at the time of the relevant conduct, having been first registered on 15 January 1999, and should have been thoroughly aware of appropriate professional conduct and professional boundaries which should exist with students;
    2. (b)
      There was a significant age difference between RGK and the relevant student;
    3. (c)
      The psychological and physical harm caused to the relevant student (immediate and long term)  by the teacher’s conduct, including emotional stress and anxiety, the impact on her perceptions of romantic relationships, sexual relationships and physical intimacy and the direct physical and psychological harm caused to her as a result of RGK’s ‘rough sex’ encounters with her;
    4. (d)
      The absence of any acknowledgement or reflection by RGK regarding the inappropriateness of his behaviour;
    5. (e)
      The absence of any direct admissions by the teacher during the QCT investigation, or these disciplinary proceedings, with respect to the existence of a ground for disciplinary action or the alleged conduct;
    6. (f)
      The absence of any remorse expressed by RGK for his actions and the harm caused to the relevant student;
    7. (g)
      The absence of any evidence of steps taken by RGK to address the causes of the breaches of professional boundaries, and to ensure that such breaches do not occur in the future;
    8. (h)
      The physical violence/aggression (including ‘rough sex’) by RGK towards the relevant student who was then aged 17 or 18 years old;
    9. (i)
      The sending of sexually violent, abusive and degrading pornography by RGK to the relevant student, then 17 years old and in his care and protection;
  2. [35]
    The Tribunal also accepts the QCT submissions that the following mitigating factors should be considered in determining sanction in this matter:[21]
    1. (a)
      RGK’s registration has been suspended since May 2017;
    2. (b)
      RGK has not contested the allegations, and has agreed to the matter being dealt with on-the-papers without the need for an oral hearing.
  3. [36]
    Section 161 of the Act gives numerous options which the Tribunal can impose in the event that a ground for disciplinary action exists.
  4. [37]
    The QCT submits five previous decisions of the Tribunal for consideration as to sanction, having regard to the level of seriousness of the behaviour in this matter.
  5. [38]
    The first case, Queensland College of Teachers v Shanyn Simone Limpus [2011] QCAT 99, concerned a female first-year teacher, 22 years of age and a fifteen-year-old male student in Year 9, who engaged in sexual intercourse on one occasion at the teacher’s home. The Tribunal took into consideration the teacher’s young age, her inexperience, and that she was living in a remote area during her first year of teaching. The Tribunal found the behaviour to be at the more serious end of the spectrum and cancelled her registration for five years, the maximum period of sanction at the time.
  6. [39]
    We consider RGK’s behaviour to be far more serious and damaging than the behaviour in Limpus.
  7. [40]
    The second case, Queensland College of Teachers v WAS [2015] QCAT 61, concerned a 36 year-old male teacher and a sixteen year-old female student in Year 11. A close romantic and sexual relationship developed, with gift-giving, and exchanging many thousands of Facebook messages. The teacher visited the student’s home on several occasions and had sexual intercourse in her bedroom on at least three occasions. The student had divulged that she had been sexually abused and this information was not passed on to the appropriate school leaders by the teacher. He continued to exploit the vulnerabilities of the student until eventually his wife found out and the relationship with the student ended. Teacher WAS cooperated with the disciplinary process, and a six-year prohibition from the date of suspension was imposed by the Tribunal. A costs sanction was also imposed along with the requirement to provide a satisfactory psychological assessment with any future application for teacher registration.
  8. [41]
    In comparison with the current matter, there are very similar themes in both matters: RGK’s age, the relevant student’s age, the experience of the teacher, the serious abuse of a vulnerable student’s emotional and psychological well-being, and the failure of the teacher to report an issue such as sexual abuse. However, RGK’s use of social media was even more serious as he sent violent and degrading images and video content to the student. In addition, the sexual relationship itself was often violent.
  9. [42]
    We consider the current matter to be more serious than that of WAS.
  10. [43]
    The third case, Queensland College of Teachers v RTM [2016] QCAT 501, concerned a male teacher in his mid-thirties and a senior female student. During Year 11 the relationship became over-familiar, and gifts were given to the student. Later in the year in Year 12 the relationship turned sexual. Communication between the two was often sexually explicit. There were at least five occasions of sexual intercourse prior to the student graduating. Some liaisons happened at school during school hours, others in a park and at the teacher’s home. The relationship continued for four months into the following year. The teacher showed a lack of remorse, a significant level of deceit, including encouraging deceit in the student, and little understanding of the harm for the student. The Tribunal cancelled the teacher’s registration for a period of seven years from the date of the order, along with the requirement to provide a satisfactory psychological report prior to any future application for teacher registration, and a costs order of $5,000 to be paid within twelve months.
  11. [44]
    In comparison with the current matter, the behaviour in RTM concerned a teacher and student of similar ages as in the current matter, similar levels of deceit, similar disregard of any consideration of appropriate boundaries, and a similar lack of cooperation in the investigative and disciplinary process.
  12. [45]
    We consider, however, that the violent behaviour displayed by RGK, and the abusive use of degrading photos and video material, makes the current case more serious and damaging than RTM.
  13. [46]
    The fourth case, Queensland College of Teachers v SGS [2017] QCAT 383, concerned an experienced male teacher in his early forties and a female Year 12 student. There was sexual misconduct for the final six months of the year. Numerous times during periods of emotional distress, the student stayed overnight at the teacher’s home without any appropriate permissions given. On another occasion SGS stayed overnight at the student’s home. The relationship continued well after the student left school. Inappropriate communication was both evident and prolific, sexual and graphic. SGS chose not to cooperate with the investigative and disciplinary processes and it was only after police obtained the text messages that the sexual misconduct was admitted. The Tribunal imposed both a seven-year sanction as well as a costs order in this case. There was also the requirement to provide a satisfactory psychologist’s report prior to any future application for registration.
  14. [47]
    In comparison with SGS, RGK has displayed similar behaviours in the levels of deceit, boundary violations, disregard of harm caused to the vulnerable young student, the exploitation of the student in many regards, and the disrespect to fellow colleagues and the community in general. The level of violence and degrading, inappropriate communication used by RGK toward the relevant student, however, is marked in its debasement and is clearly more serious in nature.
  15. [48]
    The fifth case, Queensland College of Teachers v HMJ [2016] QCAT 447, concerned a 47 year-old female teacher and a 16/17 year old Year 12 male student. There was considerable inappropriate communication on Facebook between the two, and sexual intercourse took place following the school formal, despite the admission from the teacher that she carried a sexually transmitted illness. Although the student did not become infected, the level of anxiety he suffered was harmful. The Tribunal found this to be an aggravating aspect of her behaviour. A prohibition of 6 years was imposed from the date that the teacher handed in her registration. It was noted by the Tribunal that the teacher was cooperative in the investigative process and held some insight into her behaviour.
  16. [49]
    HMJ is distinguishable from the current matter. There was not a lengthy sexual relationship, the communication by email was inappropriate but did not appear to be sexualised, and the sexualised behaviour escalated in the last few weeks of school, culminating in one event of sexual intercourse.
  17. [50]
    In this matter the inappropriate behaviour was apparent from the outset, became very quickly sexual, then violent, and was always denied with no acknowledgement of the harm done to the relevant student.
  18. [51]
    In summary, we find RGK’s conduct to be worse than any of these cases, but most similar in many factors to that of RTM.
  19. [52]
    The relevant student has since reported that the inappropriate conduct of RGK has had a very significant impact on her attitudes towards romantic and sexual relationships, her self-esteem, and her emotional and psychological well-being.
  20. [53]
    The QCT has submitted that an appropriate sanction would include a prohibition of 5 to 8 years in relation to reapplying for registration.
  21. [54]
    RGK’s Solicitor has submitted that RGK does not oppose the Orders sought by the QCT.[22]
  22. [55]
    We consider that the highest period of that range should apply. That is a longer period than in any of the discussed cases. Having regard to the seriousness of this matter, we consider that a period of 8 years is appropriate.
  23. [56]
    The QCT has also submitted a list of conditions to apply to any application for registration, and we adopt those conditions as appropriate.

Non-Publication Order

  1. [57]
    The QCT submits it is not in the public interest for information to be published which would allow the former students in this matter to be identified, and agrees that the identification of RGK and/or the school would make it possible to identify those former students. The Tribunal accepts those submissions of the QCT.
  2. [58]
    It is submitted for the former teacher that a pseudonym should be adopted for him in these Reasons so as to not allow identification of him, and therefore the other persons which the Order seeks to protect.[23] The pseudonym RGK is adopted in these Reasons for that purpose.
  3. [59]
    It is further submitted for RGK that the non-publication order should extend to the contents of all documents produced to the Tribunal, and all evidence given before the Tribunal.[24] That order as sought would be very wide, but in order to avoid possible identification of the parties, or publication of redacted details from the evidence, we will make an order in that regard, except as recited in these published Reasons for this decision.
  4. [60]
    Therefore we will make orders under section 66 of the QCAT Act that publication is prohibited of:
    1. (a)
      the contents of all documents produced to the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
    2. (b)
      all evidence given before the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
    3. (c)
      information that may identify the teacher, the relevant student, the relevant school, staff members, former staff members of the relevant school, parents of students, or former students of the relevant school, any witnesses who gave evidence to the Tribunal, the teacher’s daughter, the teacher’s wife, and the teacher’s mother.

Orders

  1. [61]
    The Tribunal finds that a ground for disciplinary action under section 92(1)(h) has been established, and makes orders as follows:
  1. A disciplinary ground is established.
  2. RGK is prohibited from re-applying for registration for eight years from the date of this order.
  3. The Register is to be endorsed with a notation that should RGK re-apply for registration or permission to teach after the expiry of the period of prohibition, that application must include an independent psychological report satisfactory to the Queensland College of Teachers addressing the following:
    1. (a)
      An assessment of RGK’s appreciation of the following:
      1. (i)
        Differentiating between personal and professional relationships;
      1. (ii)
        The legal obligations of teachers and tutors;
      1. (iii)
        Development and maintenance of professional standards when working with young people and actively determining and implementing professional boundaries with individual students;
      1. (iv)
        Risk assessment and early issue identification of potentially problematic situations and venues as well as initiating realistic solutions for avoiding the risk of harm to students;
      1. (v)
        The extent and nature of the student, colleague, parental and community trust inherently invested in a teacher;
      1. (vi)
        Personal and social behaviour that would compromise the professional standing of teaching
      1. (vii)
        The effect of inappropriate relationships with students
      1. (viii)
        The trust and power granted to a teacher;
      1. (ix)
        The importance of full adherence to the Queensland College of Teachers code of ethics.
    2. (b)
      An indication from the psychologist about whether the psychologist is satisfied that RGK has adequately understood and addressed the above points.
    3. (c)
      The status of RGK’s current mental health including details of any therapy undertaken since the date of the disciplinary decision.
    4. (d)
      Confirmation that the psychologist was provided with copies of:
  1. (i)
    The Tribunal’s disciplinary decision;
  2. (ii)
    The Queensland College of Teachers referral under section 97 of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld).
  1. RGK must bear all costs of and associated with compliance with the Tribunal’s orders.
  2. Publication of:
  1. a)
    the contents of all documents produced to the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
  2. b)
    all evidence given before the Tribunal (except as recited in the published Reasons for the decision), and
  3. c)
    information that may identify the teacher, the relevant student, the relevant school, staff members, former staff members of the relevant school, parents of students, or former students of the relevant school, any witnesses who gave evidence to the Tribunal, the teacher’s daughter, the teacher’s wife, and the teacher’s mother,

is prohibited under section 66 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld).

Footnotes

[1]  QCT documents, pp 145-157.

[2]  QCT documents, p 91.

[3]  QCT documents, pp 92-106.

[4]Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336, 361-362.

[5]  Schedule 3 of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 (Qld).

[6]  Ibid s 92(1)(h).

[7]Queensland College of Teachers v Armstrong [2010] QCAT 709, 33.

[8]  Section 161 of the Act.

[9]  Section 7 of the Act.

[10]Queensland College of Teachers v RGK [2017] QCAT 229.

[11]Professional Boundaries: A Guideline for Queensland Teachers, Queensland College of Teachers, May 2016 (Updated 2017), 5.

[12]Queensland College of Teachers v SGS [2017] QCAT 383.

[13]Queensland College of Teachers v FDA [2017] QCAT 224.

[14]  QCT Submissions filed 18 January 2019 at [50]

[15]  Section 233 of the Act.

[16]  Section 3 of the Act.

[17]Queensland College of Teachers v Genge [2011] QCAT 163, [12].

[18]  Ibid [55].

[19]Queensland College of Teachers v WAS [2015] QCAT 61, [38].

[20]  Ibid [58].

[21]  Ibid [59].

[22]  Further Respondent’s Submissions filed 7 February 2019 at [1]

[23]  Ibid at [3]

[24]  Respondent’s Submissions filed 11 December 2018 at [11]

Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Queensland College of Teachers v RGK

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Queensland College of Teachers v RGK

  • MNC:

    [2019] QCAT 180

  • Court:

    QCAT

  • Judge(s):

    Member Paratz, Member Kent, Member Ms. Oliver

  • Date:

    02 Jul 2019

Appeal Status

Please note, appeal data is presently unavailable for this judgment. This judgment may have been the subject of an appeal.

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