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 (January 2018), however may change without notice.
Going to the Doctors
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. However, 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.
When can I make my own decisions about my medical treatment?
If you are 16 years old or older you can consent to medical treatment on your own. This means that you are the only person who gets to make decisions about your body.
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, whether your doctor thinks you fully understand what is involved, and whether it’s important for your health and wellbeing. Two doctors need to agree before you can give consent.
Will my doctor tell anyone about my appointment?
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.
In certain situations where your doctor is worried about your health and safety or that of others they may be legally required to tell another person or a government authority about their concern.
What about Sexual Health stuff?
There are doctors and clinics that you can go to that specialise in sexual health and young people. They are free, confidential, and offer a variety of services.
SHINE SA has a free sexual healthline, counselling, and medical services. Clinic 275 offers free and confidential testing, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (no appointments necessary and no Medicare card needed).
Check out their websites for more details.
When can I get contraception?
There is no age limit preventing you from buying contraception like condoms at a chemist, or from seeing a doctor about contraception without parental consent.
Certain medical contraceptives, such as contraceptive pills, require a prescription that you can only get from a doctor. If you are 16 or older you will usually be given the contraceptives you require as long as they are safe for you.
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 other form 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.
If you would like to find out more about your options if you become pregnant, have a read through our Pregnancy and Getting Help factsheet.
Some doctors ‘bulk bill’ under the government health system. This means that you will not have to pay to visit the doctor. However, you can only be bulk billed if you have a Medicare card. Always ask the receptionist whether you will have to pay any money when you book your appointment.
Can I get my own Medicare card?
If you are under 15 years old you are included on your parent’s Medicare card. When you are 15 years old or older you can apply for your own Medicare card. Having your own card ensures that your parents do not have access to your Medicare records.
You can apply for a card on the Medicare website.
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.