Health

Disclaimer: The material in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice about your own particular situation we encourage you to call the Free Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424. The legal information was correct at the time of publishing (April 2016), however may change without notice.

 

Acknowledgments:

The Legal Services Commission gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the NT Legal Aid Commission and National Children’s and Youth Legal Centre in allowing the Legal Services Commission of South Australia to use and adapt existing content.

In this section you will find information on:

  • Going to the doctors
  • Medicare
  • Contraception
  • Donating blood
  • Organ donation
     

Going to the Doctors

Can I choose my own doctor?

You have the right to choose you own doctor. In most cases your doctor must keep the things you talk about confidential.

When can I go to the doctor alone?

There is no law that says how old you must be before you can go to the doctor alone.  But if you do go alone, your doctor will only give you treatment if they are sure that you are able to understand any medical advice and information they give you during the appointment.

 If you want to go to the doctor without your parent or guardian, it might be a good idea to call in advance to check that the doctor is happy to see you and that he or she will keep the appointment private.

When can I make my own decisions about medical treatment?

If you are 16 or older you can consent to medical treatment on your own.

If you are under 16, you might be able to consent without your parent’s permission depending on what kind of medical treatment you need, and whether your doctor thinks you fully understand what is involved. Two doctors need to agree before you can give consent.

When the doctors decide whether to give you medical treatment, they will consider:

  • Your age and maturity;
  • The seriousness of the treatment;
  • Whether you understand why the treatment is needed, what it involves, and things that might go wrong (like side-effects from drugs, or other complications); and
  • Your ability to appreciate the wider consequences of your decision (like the effect of that decision on others including your family, moral issues, and emotional long-term impact).

    You will be able to consent if, after considering these points both doctors think:
     
  • You understand the advantages and risks of the treatment; and
  • Overall, the treatment is good for your health and wellbeing.

Will my doctor tell anyone about my appointment?

If you are having problems at home, your doctor is someone you can talk to and trust.  Remember, you will not be forced to return to a violent or abusive home.

Your doctor is usually not allowed to tell your parents that you visited the doctors or anything that was talked about during your visit.  This is called confidentiality.

If you are worried about your appointment being kept confidential (between just you and the doctor) you should check with your doctor before or at the beginning of the appointment.

But, in certain situations where your doctor is worried about the health and safety of you or others, they may be legally required to tell another person or a government authority.  For example, if:

  • You have an infectious disease (like malaria, cholera, syphilis, chlamydia or HIV/AIDS), your doctor must notify the Chief Public Health Officer; or
  • Your doctor thinks you are being physically, sexually or emotionally abused, they must notify Families SA who may take action to investigate; or
  • Your doctor thinks you might hurt yourself or someone else, they may warn that person, your parent or carer, or another authority.
     

Contraception

When can I get contraception?

There is no age limit preventing you from buying contraception like condoms at a pharmacy, or from getting medical advice about contraception without parental consent.

But certain medical contraceptives, such as the pill, require a prescription that you can only get from a doctor.  This is because some medication may not be safe for everyone to take, and a doctor must first explain how to use the medication safely, and whether you need to avoid other medicine, drugs, or alcohol while taking it.

If you are 16 or older you will usually be given a prescription for the pill or other forms of contraception as long as it is safe for you to have.

If you are under 16, two doctors must be satisfied that you understand their advice and that it is in your best interests to receive a prescription or have a different type of contraception without parental consent. When something is in your best interests, it means that overall it is good for your health and wellbeing.

The doctors may follow written guidelines when making this decision.  These guidelines include considering things like whether:

  • You understand the information and advice the doctor is giving you;
  • The doctor thinks your parents should be involved;
  • You are likely to have sex even if you don’t have contraceptives;
  • Your physical or mental health are likely to suffer without contraception.

Your doctor may ask you to consider talking to your parents about contraception, if you haven’t already.  If you don’t want your parent or carer involved, make this clear the doctor before you tell them what’s going on.   In the end, it is up to your doctor whether to give you a prescription for medical contraceptives.

Also, if you are pregnant, or you think you might be, please have a read through our fact sheet on pregnancy.
 

Medicare cards

If you are going to visit the doctor you will need to think about how you will pay. Some doctors bulk bill under the government health system. This means that you will not have to pay to visit the doctor. You can only be bulk billed if you have a Medicare card.

Can I get my own Medicare card?

If you are 15 years old or older you can apply for your own Medicare card. If you are under 15 you are included on your parents Medicare card. In order to get a Medicare card you will need to complete an enrolment form. This is available on the Medicare website and at Medicare offices around Australia. As part of the application you will need to provide original or certified copies of documents such as your birth certificate or passport.

If I’m on my parents Medicare card, will they have access to my Medicare records?

If your name is on your parents Medicare card or you have a duplicate card, they will usually have access to your Medicare records.  If you are 14 or older, Medicare will not give information about your medical treatment to your parents without your consent, but your parents will still be able to see that you have visited a doctor.  This is because the information will be listed if your parents apply for a Medicare Tax Benefit Statement.

If you have your own Medicare Card (not a duplicate), then your parents will not have access to any of your Medicare records.
 

Donating Blood

If you are between 16 – 70 years of age then you may be eligible to donate blood. This also depends on a range of factors including your health, weight and recent overseas travel. For all of the eligibility criteria to be able to give blood visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Service website.
 

Organ Donation

If you are 16 years or above you can register your decision to be an organ donor after death on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Registration is voluntary. Families still need to be asked to consent to the donation at the time the decisions are being made about the donation. If they don’t consent, your organs will not be donated. It might be good to sensitively speak to your family about your decision so that they understand your reasons if they are ever placed in this position.

 




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