Your rights at the doctor

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How do I see a doctor without my parents?

There are no laws that stop you from seeing the doctor without your parents or guardians. However, if you plan on going alone, you should contact the doctors’ office beforehand to confirm you want the appointment to be kept private.

While you can see a doctor without your parents or guardians, a doctor can only give you medical treatment (eg prescribe you medication) if you give informed consent (except in emergencies where it is necessary to save your life or prevent serious damage to your health). Before you can give your consent to medical treatment, the doctor must make sure you understand the medical advice they have given you, the consequences of any treatment and any alternative treatments that may be available. 

You can also choose to have someone else come to a doctor’s appointment with you for support. This might be a friend, or another family member.

When can I consent to medical treatment?

There is no set age at which a young person who is under 18 can consent to medical treatment without the approval of their parents or guardian. 

Whether you can consent to medical treatment depends on things like how old you are and how serious the treatment is. Generally: 

  • if you are over 16 years old, you can consent to medical treatment without your parents or guardians; 
  • if you are over 14 years old, you may consent to your own medical treatment as long as you fully understand the medical procedure or treatment, and any risks or consequences. However if you are 14 or 15 years old, a doctor may still wish to obtain the consent of your parent or guardian unless you object to this;
  • if you are 14 years or younger, the consent of your parents or guardians to medical treatment is normally needed.

Even if you can’t consent by yourself, you should still be involved in the decision and asked for your views. You can always ask questions or ask the doctor to explain any medical words they use.

How do I keep my medical treatment private?

A doctor is someone you can talk to and trust. 

A doctor is usually required to keep information about your appointment and your health private. However, a doctor can share your information with your consent, or in some other situations for example where they think you or someone else is at risk of serious harm.

In some situations, a doctor has to share your information, even if you don’t agree, for example:

  • if you are under 16 and your doctor thinks you are at risk of significant harm (for example if you are at risk of being sexually, physically or emotionally abused, or if you are living in a household where there is domestic violence), they must notify the Department of Family and Community Services;
  • if your doctor thinks another young person who is under 16 is at risk of significant harm;
  • if your doctor thinks a serious crime has been committed, and the information is needed for police investigations.

Usually a doctor should talk to you first, before they share your information. If you are worried about a doctor sharing your information, you can talk to them about your concerns.

Emergency medical treatment

Sometimes you might need emergency medical treatment. A medical practitioner is allowed to carry out medical treatment on you if you are aged under 16 without your consent or the consent of your parents or guardians, if they believe it is necessary to treat you to save your life or prevent serious damage to your health. 

How do I pay for medical treatment?

Most of the time simple visits to the doctor will be paid for by Medicare. However, depending on the doctor and medical treatment you have, you might need to pay a fee.

What is Medicare? 

Medicare is a government service that pays some or all of the cost for Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and other people living in Australia to receive certain medical services (like visits to the doctor, dentist or hospital). You must have a Medicare card to use Medicare. Information about Medicare cards can be found here.

How do I pay using Medicare?

Not all medical services will be paid for by Medicare. You should ask about payment options before you make your appointment with your doctor. In particular, you should ask:

  • “Does the doctor bulk bill?”
  • “Will I have to pay a gap?”
Bulk billing When your doctor accepts your Medicare card as payment for the appointment.
Gap The left over amount that you have to pay when Medicare does not cover the whole cost of the appointment.

If the doctor does not bulk bill, you may need to make a Medicare claim to get a refund after your appointment. Most refunds are paid directly into the bank account that is connected to your Medicare card. More information about claiming can be found here. 

Medicare claim When your doctor charges you directly for the appointment and Medicare gives you a refund later.

Seeking medical treatment on your own – a checklist and animation

  1. If you have a Medicare card, find a Doctor who ‘bulk bills’ and book an appointment. You can search for bulk-billing doctors here.
  2. Ring your doctor to:
    • confirm you will be attending without your parents;
    • confirm you want the appointment kept private; and
    • ask about payment options. 
  3. Go to the appointment.
  4. Make sure you communicate openly with your doctor and listen to their advice. 
  5. Depending on the reason why you see your doctor, it might be a good idea to take some time after the appointment to think about your treatment options before you make any decisions.

We’ve also put together a handy animation that explains this process: 

Will my parents know I’ve been to the doctor by using my Medicare card?

Your Medicare history can be accessed online through If you are 14 years or over, you can create your own myGov account to be able to access this information. 

If you are listed on your parent’s or guardian’s Medicare card:

  • if you are aged 14 or over, no one else can see your Medicare claim history online by logging into their MyGov account;
  • if you are under the age of 14, your parents or guardians can see limited details about your Medicare claim history online via their MyGov account which will include information regarding the date your saw a doctor, amount paid and the rebate given by Medicare.

You or your parents may also have registered for a My Health Record. If you live in the Nepean Blue Mountains a My Health Record will have been automatically created for you unless you opted out prior to 27 May 2016. 

A My Health Record will contain certain health information you or your parents choose to include in it. It may include details of claims made for Medicare benefits, claims for pharmaceutical benefits, organ donator status and immunisations administered until the age of 20.

Your parents can access your My Health Record until you turn 14. After this, they can only see it with your written permission. You can find out more information about My Health Records here.

Information on different types of medical treatment

  • There is no age limit on access to barrier contraception like condoms at the pharmacy. There is also no age limit preventing you from getting  spermicides, or from getting medical advice about contraception without parental consent.
  • To access oral contraceptives (like the Pill) you need a prescription from your doctor. 
  • Just like any other medical treatment Your doctor must be satisfied that it is in your best interests to receive a prescription for contraception without parental consent and may ask you some personal questions (see above).
  • The doctor may consider things like:
    • Whether you understand the information and advice they are giving to you;
    • Whether they think your parents should be involved;
    • Whether you are likely to have sex even without contraceptives;
    • Whether your mental or physical health will suffer without contraceptives
  • If you think you might be pregnant please visit our page on pregnancy here for more information. 
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • If you are worried about having a sexually transmitted disease you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Some doctors’ clinics specialise in this type of treatment. A list of specialist clinics in New South Wales can be found here.
Mental Health
  • A doctor is someone you can talk to and trust. If you are feeling distressed, depressed or anxious, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication or put you in touch with relevant mental health services.
  • Information about youth mental health services in New South Wales can be found here
Plastic Surgery
  • There are strict rules around plastic surgery for people under 18. These rules require plastic surgeons to have regard to the views of the parents when deciding whether to perform plastic surgery.
  • In addition, all patients under 18 must be evaluated by a psychologist or doctor before any major surgery.
  • Again, your doctor is someone you can trust. If you are a victim of abuse and require medical treatment you should organise to see a doctor. 
  • More information about abuse and seeking help can be found here.

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