Public Statement in relation to Mr Luke Papallo
29 October 2019
The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (the Commission) conducted an investigation into the conduct of Luke Joseph Papallo, a non-registered health practitioner who provided services as a counsellor at AFFORD, a Disability Service Provider in Blacktown.
The complaint alleged that Mr Papallo engaged in a personal and sexual relationship with a young and extremely vulnerable female client who was being treated by Mr Papallo for anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
The investigation found that Mr Papallo’s sexual relationship with Patient A lasts for a six month period and it is clear that the relationship exacerbated Patient A’s condition to the extent that it increased her symptoms of panic attacks, anxiety and depression.
The investigation found that Mr Papallo breached his professional boundaries and abused his position of trust and power as a counsellor. Mr Papallo knew that Patient A had developed feelings for him and he exploited a very vulnerable patient for his own sexual gratification. He displayed little insight or remorse into the impact his conduct has had on Patient A and he instead sought to blame Patient A for his own personal distress upon her disclosing the relationship to his employer.
The investigation also found that Mr Papallo failed to provide health services in a safe and ethical manner as he failed to assist Patient A with finding another counsellor/psychologist for treatment despite her requests for such assistance.
Mr Papallo’s conduct was in breach of the NSW Code of Conduct (the Code) for unregistered health practitioners, [Schedule 3, Public Health Regulation 2012] and in particular his conduct was in breach of the following clauses of the Code:
- Clause 3(1): a health practitioner must provide health services in a safe and ethical manner;
- Clause 3(2)(h): a health practitioner must assist his or her clients to find other appropriate health care professionals, if required and practicable;
- Clause 13(1): a health practitioner must not engage in a sexual or other close personal relationship with a client.
Mr Papallo’s failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and his total disregard for the ramification of his conduct means that Mr Papallo poses a clear risk to the health and safety of the public.
The Commission therefore make the following prohibition order:
- Mr Luke Joseph Papallo is prohibited from providing health services, as defined in s.4 of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993, whether on a paid or voluntary basis for a minimum of five years. The prohibition order will remain in force at the expiry of the five year period until Mr Papallo can demonstrate to the Commission that he no longer poses a risk to the health or safety of the public.
For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to email@example.com.