My Health Records posing risk to vulnerable children
The Australian Government has launched the initiative of My Health Records to be available by the end of 2018. The motivation behind the system is to provide Australians with immediate access to their health records whilst creating efficiency in the health industry.
How does the system work?
Any Australian who holds a Medicare card will automatically be provided with their medical records online unless they have chosen to opt out. The deadline to opt out of the service has been extended to 31 January 2019.
It provides users the ability to share their health information with healthcare providers and practitioners. It includes information such as medical records prepared by your GP, details of prescribed medicines, referral documents, blood test results and contact numbers and emergency contact details.
The Law Council of Australia has raised the concern that the My Health Records exposes vulnerable children to potential harm. They system allows for parents with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders to access their child’s medical information and residential address.
‘Parental responsibility’ is defined broadly under the My Health Act 2012 (Cth). It includes a person who has a parenting order under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) or a person who is entitled to guardianship or custody of, or access to, the child.
Notwithstanding that a parenting order may be in place, a parent can continue to retain parental responsibility for a child even if the order prevents them from being in contact or requires supervised visitation.
The effect of this is that they may be able to discover the address of the other parent and child. This causes particular risk to victims of family violence who want to have their location unknown.
The President of the Law Council of Australia has strongly recommended the legislation be amended to ensure victims of family violence are protected and information cannot be shared with perpetrators.
If you are the victim of domestic violence and/or have a vulnerable child/children, you ought to assess the benefits of having access to online medical records with the potential risks associated in disclosing personal information. You may suspend the My Health Record by calling 1800 723 471 if you are concerned that a non-custodial parent may access your child’s information.
Contact Bambrick Legal on (08) 8362 5269 if you have any questions regarding the risks associated with My Health Records or require information regarding family violence.