Following the opt-out period which ended on 31 January 2019, The Australian Digital Health Agency confirms that 9 out of 10 Australians have a My Health Record.
The Australian Government’s My Health Record is a secure way to view your health information online. My Health Record allows health care providers involved in your care access to important health information including your allergies; medicines you are currently taking; medical conditions you have been diagnosed with; and pathology results such as blood tests.
The supposed benefit of the My Health Record system is that Australia’s national health system will become better connected and your family will receive safer, more transparent and more efficient care.
But what about those affected by family violence?
Family violence is defined as ‘violent, threatening or other behavior by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family or causes the family member to be fearful.’
Examples of behavior that may constitute family violence include: an assault; a sexual assault; stalking; repeated derogatory taunts or intentionally damaging or destroying property.
An adult’s My Health Record is private and can only be accessed by that individual and their medical professionals. A child’s My Health Record is also available to their parents. Where there is domestic and family violence, the perpetrator may be able to locate their victims using information provided on their child’s My Health Record.
In its submissions to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, the Women’s Legal Service Queensland stated
“In addition to serious concerns about violent perpetrators locating victims, access to such information also means perpetrators can constantly question and second guess the primary parent’s decision making about the child or may use the information to instil fear and make victims feel the perpetrator knows their every action.”
There are some preventative steps you can take:
Those affected by family violence can suspend or cancel their own or their child’s My Health Record by calling the My Health Record Helpline on 1800 723 471.
If you want to keep your My Health Record, there are several steps you can take to control the information available:
- Set privacy and security controls – you can set an access PIN code, which means only those you give the PIN Code to will be able to access your record.
- See who has viewed you record – you can see who has accessed your record and you can set up email and SMS notifications when someone accesses your record for the first time.
- Choose what information is in your record – you can ask your healthcare provider not to upload information to your or your child’s record and you can remove documents at any time.
- Register your My Health Record under a pseudonym – you can apply for an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) through the Department of Human Services.
- Access by authorised representatives – you can nominate an individual to act on your or your child’s behalf. If you believe another parent should NOT have access to a My Health Record you can call the Helpline to remove them.
The My Health Record Helpline can assist you in putting these protections in place.
For more information about how to protect you and your family, visit the My Health Record website: https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/howtos/family-and-domestic-violence
 Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 4AB(1)
 Ibid s 4AB (2)
 ‘The My Health System and domestic violence survivors’ Women’s Legal Service Queensland submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee