A safety net wherever you travel

  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, ACT
    Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, ACT

Photos: Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services

At Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, in the ACT, we see My Health Record as a safety net for our clients.

For all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this is a great initiative. I am encouraging our clients to stay with My Health Record.

What’s really exciting now is that more and more information is being uploaded into records. The more information you have, particularly medicines information, the more useful My Health Record is.

I cannot emphasise enough that Winnunga does not take this decision lightly. We value the trust our clients have placed in us above everything else. They trust that we will provide them with the right information and advice about My Health Record. We do what’s best for our clients, and they appreciate that.

Nationally, there are 143 Community Controlled Aboriginal Health Services, and about 209 clinics. Many clients are transient and move around a lot.

At Winnunga, we have 790 transient clients. Having a My Health Record means our GP can access their important information quickly.

We’ve had people come to Winnunga from very remote communities where the clinics are only open for an hour on a particular day. A good example is Kintore, a remote settlement 530 kilometres west of Alice Springs near the Western Australian border.

Trying to track down medical records for these people is difficult to say the least. Often when people come to Winnunga they have left their medications at home or they’ve run out and they don’t know what their prescriptions are. Many are like me, they know one is a little blue pill or a little white pill, but can’t remember the name. It’s very helpful for people to have this information accessible wherever they are through a My Health Record.

My Health Record is an important initiative, particularly for our clients and not just because they may be transient. They’ve also got very complex health issues – both physical, mental and social issues, as well as cultural issues. So, it just makes good sense to us, for all of our clients to have a My Health Record.

It’s also important now for other services to come on board so that more information is being uploaded.

People get sick of telling and retelling their story. Often, especially for vulnerable people, it just keeps traumatising them. The sooner we can move away from that and can start to get our clients to move forward, the better it will be.

Having people choose whether to opt out gives us a greater opportunity to discuss issues around privacy and confidentiality. People also need to understand why it is important for them to have a My Health Record. The primary reason is, of course, that  it’s going to be a valuable tool for improving their health outcomes and to give them more control over their health management.

For me the issues around security and privacy of My Health Record are more than outweighed by the benefits. I’m glad the legislation is being amended to enshrine in law what the Australian Digital Health Agency has always adopted as policy in practice.

My advice now is to jump on board and support it. At the end of the day it will be worth it.

Information on My Health Record in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages is available here.


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