The risk My Health Record presents for some children

The Government’s plan for all Australian residents (including children) to have an online Health Record presents an unacceptable risk to certain children unless some changes are made to it. It is those children who have a parent who is subject to a domestic violence Protection Order who are most at risk.

My Health Record contains privacy protections including for family and domestic violence situations. However, the system falls down with its current definition of `parental responsibility’. Please click here to find out what `parental responsibility’ means under the Family Law Act.

The ‘My Health Records Act’ that created the My Health Record system defines `parental responsibility very widely. A person who has `parental responsibility’ under this Act will have access to a child’s medical records which will include their location.

A person who has `parental responsibility’ includes a person who has a parenting order (within the meaning of the Family Law Act) that a child spend time with that person (child custody). The definition says nothing about whether or not that time spent with a child might be ordered to be supervised or very limited.

The definition of `parental responsibility’ also entitles a person `who is the child’s parent and has not ceased to have parental responsibility for the child because of an order made under the Family Law Act’ to access the child’s records (and address). In fact, a person can retain parental responsibility for a child under a parenting order even when that same order also prevents them from coming into contact with the child.

As the President of the Law Council of Australia said “the legislation needs to protect the location and identity of victims of family violence from being shared with perpetrators”.

Until the legislation is changed, we strongly recommend that parents of at risk children weigh up the risk of `opting out’ of the My Health Record system (especially where those children have a serious medical condition) against the risk of remaining in the system knowing that the records of their children might be able to be accessed by the other parent who is the perpetrator of family violence.

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