The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has recently decided that a teacher is allowed to return to work after overcoming a methamphetamine addiction.

The teacher was convicted of ten offences relating to theft, including stealing $1,200 worth of goods from a supermarket and another $1,200 worth of goods from Kmart. The teacher was also convicted of unlawfully converting a motor vehicle.

The teacher was sentenced to 12 months’ supervision, ordered to complete 80 hours of community work and pay $1,000 in reparations.

The teacher accepted full responsibility for these offences. She explained that she had stolen the goods to facilitate her drug addiction, which was a symptom of a mental health disorder she had recently been diagnosed with.

Evidence provided to the Tribunal showed that the teacher was committed to “gaining control” of her addiction. The teacher had taken steps to control her mental health and addiction, regularly visiting her GP, a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

The teacher agreed to a voluntary impairment process, which showed that the teacher was committed to rehabilitation and that her mental health condition was being well managed.  

The Tribunal had to determine whether the teacher was fit to return to the teaching profession. The Tribunal concluded that the teacher’s conduct clearly amounted to serious misconduct.

The Tribunal decided that responsibility, rehabilitation and contrition are important factors to consider when determining a penalty for serious misconduct. In this case, the Tribunal decided that the teacher had overcome her drug addiction and was committed to managing her mental health.

The teacher had committed to attending rehabilitation, attending a programme through the Salvation Army, engaged with a clinical psychologist and more. The Tribunal decided that these factors showed that the risk of relapse was being managed by the teacher.

The Tribunal censured the teacher and imposed conditions on the teacher’s work. The teacher was ordered to work with a Teaching Council approved mentor and report to the Council every six months regarding her ongoing rehabilitation.

It is important to be aware of your professional obligations as a teacher. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors