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“My Health Record” – are your children at risk?

You may have heard that government introduced “My Health Record” as an online summary of health information for every Australian commencing in 2018. 

My Health Record provides you with access to your health information from any computer or device, as well as allowing healthcare professionals to access your information, including in emergency situations. This will be introduced for every Australian, unless you specifically “opt out” of having a My Health Record before 15 November 2018. However, it is important that you are aware of potential risks. Your child’s “My Health Record” may be accessed by both parents, including a parent who may be subject to Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (“ADVO”). 

This is because, under the definition of “parental responsibility” in the My Health Records Act 2012, such a person includes:

  • A child’s parent (including a person presumed to be the child’s parent under the Family Law Act or a law of a State or Territory) unless that parent has ceased to have parental responsibility as a result of an order made under the Family Law Act or a law of a State or Territory;
  • Under a “parenting order”, is a person with whom a child:
    • Lives with, spends time with; or
    • Is responsible for the child’s long-term or day-to-day care, welfare or development; or
  • is entitled to guardianship or custody of, or access to, the child under a Commonwealth, State or Territory law. Therefore, a person with even minimal parental responsibility may be able to find out the address of the child (or the other parent with whom the child lives).  Even if there is no ADVO in place, there may be circumstances where it is important that the residential address of the child (or other parent) remains private from a person. Senate Inquiries in relation to privacy protections for the My Health Record system are underway, but we strongly suggest that you reflect on your circumstances and those of your children.

Consider whether you should “opt out” of having a My Health Record for you and your children.  If you do not wish to have a My Health Record, you must “opt out” by 15 November 2018. If children under 18 are listed on your Medicare card, for whom you have parental responsibility, you can opt out of My Health Record on their behalf.  

In certain circumstances, you may also opt out of My Health Record on behalf of a dependant over 18 years. To find out more about My Health Record, including how to “opt out”, we suggest you visit “myhealthrecord.gov.au”. You may wish to read the Law Council of Australia Media Release of 18 September “Amendments to My Health Record needed, so vulnerable children are not exposed to potential harm”. 

Feel free to contact any of the family lawyers in our team for assistance.



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