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Parents' access to their children's Medicare records.

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Media Release

The Hon Tony Abbott MHR Minister for Health and Ageing

13th November 2003 ABB085

Parents' access to their children's Medicare records

The Australian Government is developing legislation to give parents access on request to all information held by the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) concerning their children aged under 16 years. The government believes that, in the ordinary course of events, parents should have a right to access information about their children, especially when it relates to their children's health and welfare. Parents' right of access to their children's Medicare records should apply irrespective of whether children have their own Medicare Card.

There might be very rare circumstances where access by parents to a child's Medicare information is not appropriate, for example in cases of possible sexual or physical abuse. The government will be developing measures to protect the records of children whose well-being might be threatened if the HIC provided information to a parent concerning that child.

Based on legal advice, the HIC previously asked children aged 12 years and over for permission before releasing Medicare information to their parents.

From July 2003, the HIC raised the age below which it will automatically release information to parents to 14, where children do not have their own Medicare Card. The government's latest legal advice is that new legislation was not required to take this step but that legislation is needed to further raise the age to 16 and to provide parental access to Medicare information where children aged under 16 have their own Medicare Card.

Media contact: Kate Jordan, 0417 425 227