My Health Record – privacy concerns for children of separated parents


Posted By on 18/09/18 at 11:47 AM

By Adrian Faelli (Trainee Lawyer) and Kristina Antoniades (Special Counsel)

From 15 November 2018, all Australians will automatically receive an online My Health Record unless they choose to opt out before this date.

Privacy concerns

A variety of privacy concerns surrounding sensitive personal and medical information contained within My Health Records have been raised since the Government publicised the opt out period earlier this year.  Amongst these concerns is the access parents can have to their children’s records.

In a family law context, these concerns include the access afforded to separated parents over their children’s records in cases where the child’s name appears on both parents’ Medicare cards.

The family law perspective

Currently, each parent may access and control their child’s My Health Record (MHR) as an “authorised representative”, and all they require by way of verification is for the child(ren) to be listed on their Medicare card.  All children who have separated parents are listed on each parent’s Medicare card, so access will automatically be provided to each parent.

Whilst this would appear to be appropriate, in cases of family violence or where a parent has sole parental responsibility, this level of access could lead to safety concerns if the child’s MHR contains sensitive information, such as their current residential address.

Although parents may opt out on behalf of their children, it may still be possible for the other parent to create a new My Health Record on behalf of their children. How these privacy and safety concerns are dealt with requires further consideration and clarity from the Australian Digital Health Agency.

How to opt-out

Parents may opt out on behalf of their children before 15 November 2018.

Monica Blizzard

Monica Blizzard Director

Monica Blizzard is an Accredited Family Law Specialist with the Law Institute of Victoria, a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer, and has 20 years experience working in family law.

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