Dermatologist’s honour in media spotlight


By Michael Woodhead

5 Feb 2020

The decision to give an Order of Australia award to a dermatologist charged with sexual assault has again put the spotlight on the selection processes of Australia Day honours recipients, according to media reports.

NSW dermatologist Dr Liang Joo Leow was named a recipient of the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia on January 26  in recognition of  his service to “medicine and to the community”.

Dr Leow, who specialises in Mohs surgery, practices at Aesthetic Dermatology in Sydney and is a consultant dermatologist at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW. He is also a research supervisor and lecturer at the University of NSW and a member of the  Advisory Committee on Medicines, Therapeutic Goods Administration.

However media reports have focused on a charges he is facing relating to an alleged incident in Victoria 2017 when Dr Leow was accused of removing a condom without consent during sexual intercourse with another doctor.

He has been committed to stand trial in the Victorian County Court in 2020 on one count of rape and one count of sexual assault last year, according to documents filed with the court

Reports in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald noted the award to Dr Leow followed the controversial honour of an Order of Australia medal to media commentator Bettina Arndt

“While Dr Leow is entitled to a presumption of innocence, it has raised further questions about the selection and screening processes of Australia Day honours recipients,” they said.

In August 2019 Dr Leow won a case against Medical Board of Australia in the Supreme Court of Victoria which had appealed a verdict of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to  overturn an order to have his registration suspended.

According to documents filed with the court, Dr Leow provided eight references from colleagues in the medical and nursing profession.

“All but one of the referees stated that they were aware of the allegations against him and surprised at the allegations, given their views of his good character and commitment to providing high level medical care.  The respondent also provided a substantial resume, including current appointments, including academic appointments, varied professional experience, publications, grants and awards and professional and other memberships.”

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