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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8093

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (12:41): by leave—I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 8565:

(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (after line 5), after item 1, insert:

IAA Subsection 6 ( 1 ) (heading)

   Omit "18", substitute "14".

1AB Subsection 6 ( 1 )

   Omit "18", substitute "14".

1AC Subsection 6 ( 2 )

   Omit "18", substitute "14".

1AD Subsection 6 ( 3 )

   Repeal the subsection, substitute:

Healthcare recipients aged between 14 and 17

(3) For the purposes of this Act, a person is the authorised representative of a healthcare recipient aged between 14 and 17 years if the healthcare recipient, by written notice given to the System Operator in the approved form, nominates the person to be his or her authorised representative.

(2) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 19), after item 6, insert:

6A After subsection 51 ( 5 )


Suspension while healthcare recipient between 14 and 17

(5A) The System Operator must, in writing, decide to suspend the registration of a healthcare recipient aged between 14 and 17 years until the healthcare recipient turns 18 if:

(a) the healthcare recipient does not have an authorised representative; and

(b) the System Operator is not satisfied that the healthcare recipient wants to manage his or her own My Health Record.

6B Paragraph 53 ( 1 ) (a)

Omit "(4) or (5)", substitute "(4), (5) or (5A)".

6C Paragraph 53 ( 4 ) (a)

Omit "(4) or (5)", substitute "(4), (5) or (5A)".

This is an amendment that says that, if you're aged 14 to 17, you have control over who accesses your medical record. This is a piece of legislation that makes it very clear that the concerns of young people and groups that represent young people—indeed, medical practitioners who treat young people—are respected. Perhaps it might be worthwhile to explain the current situation. If you're a medical practitioner, someone who is aged between 14 and 17 may come to your practice. It might be a young woman seeking medical contraception. It might be a young person with a mental illness and a history of drug use wanting to seek treatment from a medical practitioner. It might be somebody with a sexually transmitted disease. It might be in a clinic that specialises in treating those sorts of issues in young people.

At the moment, should a parent wish to access that information, they will call the doctor and request the medical history of their son or daughter, and the doctor can make a judgement. The doctor can say: 'This person, in my view, is a competent minor. They are able to make this decision for themselves at the age of 17.' If they want to take contraception and they don't want that information to be disclosed to their parent, that is absolutely their right to do that, and the parent doesn't have the right to access that information. Under this change, if automatic right is granted to a parent that step of actually contacting the doctor and seeking to gain permission to access that information changes significantly, and what happens is a parent can simply jump online and look at the medical history of their son or daughter. They can see that they've received treatment for, for example, drug addiction. Their child might be somebody who has been through a detox program. They might be somebody who is receiving contraception or, indeed, treatment for a sexually transmitted disease. You can get that information if you know what you're looking for simply by the PBS record—simply by the drugs that have been prescribed. This is a pretty significant step and it reduces the autonomy of those young people.

One of the consequences of that is that young persons are less likely to want to seek that treatment and to have that conversation with a medical practitioner. It's a very important relationship and it's one where young people should feel that they are able to have confidence that a parent's not going to access that record. This is consistent with recommendation 2 in the Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into the My Health Record system. The College of General Practitioners, in their submission, made a similar request for this change. We've had concerns from, for example, headspace. Jason Trethowan, the CEO, expressed support for these amendments. They have broad support from people who work in this field and we think this is a very important change.

Progress reported.