Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) holds concerns the My Health Records system will make it easy for domestic violence perpetrators to locate victims in hiding the Senate Inquiry into My Health Records has heard.
A loophole exists in the My Health Record system, which allows a parent who does not have primary custody to create a My Health Record on their child’s behalf, without the consent or knowledge of their former partner.
An abusive ex-partner can thereby gain access via the My Health Records system to details including the location of medical practitioners and pharmacies attended by the child with their primary caregiver, potentially narrowing down the location of victims in hiding.
WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch says the current system has serious implications for victims fleeing violence.
“The current approach may create situations where a woman fleeing domestic violence may be forced to decide between taking their child to a health professional and potentially identifying their location to the perpetrator or not seeking necessary treatment,” Ms Lynch said.
“Many perpetrators retain shared parental responsibility of their children, even if domestic violence protection orders or family law orders are in place. Domestic
violence protection orders frequently do not name children as protected parties or if
they do they do not stop the perpetrator’s contact with the child or affect their
“The My Health Record system as it stands places women and children fleeing violence potentially at risk of serious injury and death.”
“The ‘opt-out’ approach is particularly dangerous if victims are unaware they have
active My Health Records, the types of information contained on these records, and
the potential for perpetrators to access this information. It is not uncommon for highly
dangerous perpetrators to constantly monitor women’s lives including who she communicates with, where she goes and her access to information. Perpetrators often have access to (and in fact demand) access to all such accounts including her passwords, controlling every aspect of her life.”
WLSQ is calling on the Health Minister to delay the roll out until the safety of vulnerable women and their children is guaranteed
“We know that for some survivors this system may be useful, particularly if they have
children with chronic illness. However, we believe that the best practice approach is
for patients to have free and informed consent about opting in so that their health
and safety needs can be assessed in consultation with their doctor and other
relevant professionals, for example a domestic violence social worker.”