Domestic violence perpetrators may be able to access confidential health records due to the federal government’s new online health service.
Women’s agencies are concerned that Australia’s new online service, My Health Record, may jeopardise the privacy and safety of victims of domestic violence.
The new scheme has been rolled out and Australians have the option to opt out of the online medical records service until October 15.
The service allows users to view private health information online, from anywhere, at any time and can allow doctors to upload, view and share documents.
Women’s Legal Service chief executive, Angela Lynch (pictured) is concerned that Australia’s new online service, My Health Record, may jeopardise the safety of victims of domestic violence
The federal government disputed the serious safety questions that were raised, MSN reported.
Women’s Legal Service chief executive, Angela Lynch believes that those in charge of structuring the online service hadn’t considered the situation of women experiencing domestic violence.
‘There can be some quite catastrophic consequences if these concerns are not taken into account by policymakers,’ Ms Lynch said.
The service is linked to the online MyGov service, which is responsible for setting out government welfare payments.
Ms Lynch warns that if an abusive partner has access to a victim’s login, its possible that they can get a range of details through the MyGov website, including their address and Centrelink details.
Anti-domestic violence groups are encouraging women to change their MyGov details immediately after leaving an abusive relationship.
A spokesman for My Health Record has disputed the claims and said that someone can only access the account if they are appointed by the individual.
They could be appointed as a ‘nominated representative’ where they have the ability to view information, or an ‘authorised representative’, where they can control it.
There are also warnings of the documents being used against victims in family court hearings (stock image)
The spokesman said that the owner of the account can add or remove ‘nominated representatives’ at any time.
Despite this, women’s agencies believe that the creators of My Health Record have failed to consider the extent of controlling behaviour in certain situations.
A study conducted in February by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found that one in six women experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous co-habiting partner, since the age of 15.
Ms Lynch has warned that there is now a great amount of pressure put on local doctors, as women trust their GP won’t disclose the information.
‘But the woman, even though she has disclosed it to her GP, may not want it disclosed wider than that to other health professionals.’
A study found that one in six women experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous co-habiting partner (stock image)
As doctors have the ability to upload documents to the health record, the spokesman said that they can place codes on specific documents.
There are also warnings of the documents being used against victims in family court hearings.
Belinda Cox, community and program manager for the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, said perpetrators definitely had access to women’s medical records.
‘Look, if someone is under relatively high levels of control, they don’t have controlled access to their own Facebook or email. They don’t have bank accounts. And we also know there are ways and means for perpetrators to get access to people’s records,’ she said.