My Health Record is an online health record system that was created by the Commonwealth government and began operating in 2012. The system initially required people to “opt-in” and choose to use the service however, in May 2017, the government announced that it will become an “opt-out” system. This means that on 31 January 2019, a My Health Record will be created for all Australians (including children) who have not chosen to “opt-out”.

Some people may even already have a My Health Record and not know about it. If that’s the case, then you can still cancel it online. My Health Record contains all of your health information, including healthcare professionals you have visited, medications you have been prescribed and treatment you have received.

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As of 31 January 2019, all children and young people (under 18 years of age) will have a My Health Record created unless their parent “opts-out”. Currently, parents with “parental responsibility” are authorised to access their child’s My Health Record. This means that if neither parent “opts-out” by 31 January 2019, a My Health Record will be created for a child, and if both parents are recorded with Medicare, then both parents are authorised to access that child’s My Health Record.

This may be a concern for anyone going through a family law separation, particularly for victims of domestic and family violence, where the location of a parent and their child is unknown to the other parent. Unless that parent has an order for “sole parental responsibility” from the Family Law Courts (which can take a long time and cost a lot of money to obtain), the other parent will be able to access the child’s My Health Record and potentially discover their location of the parent and the child and the location of their health care professionals.

It is even possible that a parent can still access their child’s My Health Record where there is an Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO) or parenting orders in place preventing one parent from having contact with their child.

My Health Record creates a real risk to separated parents, particularly those who are victims of domestic and family violence. You should consider whether this is a risk for you prior to 31 January 2019.

If you have any questions or need advice in relation to a family law matter, you should contact us on (02) 4322 0251 to speak to one of our Family Law Specialists.