Demanding a Decision: the Ruling in Wilks v Psychology Board of Australia [2024] VSC 2

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By Stuart Eustice, Partner, Holly White, Associate and Gregor Campbell, Lawyer

Factual Background

This proceeding emerged out of the Psychology Board of Australia’s (Board) decision to investigate the Plaintiff, a registered psychologist, after a notification was made in 2021 to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

In the notification Ms Dori Qui accused the Plaintiff of sexual harassment and sexual assault. These accusations were reported in the Age newspaper and arose out of the Plaintiff’s involvement with the Melbourne University Weightlifting and Powerlifting Club as Ms Qui’s coach.

No charges were brought against the Plaintiff who denied the accusations and brought defamation proceedings against Ms Qui in the Supreme Court. Subsequent investigation by Melbourne University and Powerlifting Australia also failed the substantiate Ms Qui’s accusations.

Despite no legal findings being made against him, the Plaintiff was suspended from working as an independent medical examiner by Worksafe until the Board concluded its investigation.

The Board had suspended its investigation pending the Plaintiff’s defamation proceeding, leaving the Plaintiff unable to work as an independent medical examiner. The Plaintiff commenced proceedings requiring the Board to make a decision or conclude its investigation.


The Court found that the Board had the power to suspend its investigation but considered in this case that the decision was unreasonable.

The Court concluded the decision to put the investigation (which had begun in 2021) on hold indefinitely unreasonably impacted the Plaintiff both financially and professionally. It had deprived the plaintiff of his primary source of income, indefinitely. The better view was to have concluded the current investigation and restarting a fresh at the conclusion of the defamation proceeding. The Court remitted the decision to the Board to conclude the investigation.

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