Click the link below to see a list of resources for parents to support their children
What is the RAd Health Trial?
Health professionals recommend annual health checks for adolescents and young people to improve their health; however, lack of consultation time is a key barrier to these checks in Australian general practice.
Medicare rebates (the money paid to you or your doctor by Medicare after a claim is submitted for medical treatment or services) in Australia exist to conduct health checks for particular age groups including 45-49 year old’s and 75+ years. However, there isn’t currently a Medicare rebate for an annual young person’s health check.
This trial, called RAd Health, is trying to see if a Medicare rebate specifically for a young person’s health check is effective at identifying risky behaviour and health conditions in a young person so that these concerns can be addressed before they cause future problems.
If we show that a Medicare rebate payment would be effective for a young person’s health check, we will advocate to the Government to fund a rebate payment for annual health checks for young people in Australian general practice.
What is a young person’s health check?
A health check may last up to one hour and will provide a comprehensive review and discussion of the physical and psychological aspects of health and wellbeing. The young person may see the nurse as well as the GP, and there will be the opportunity to address any health concerns. Annual health checks for young people are already recommended in general practice guidelines [click here to see Red Book guidelines], but clinics cannot always provide this service because of lack of time or funding for the consultation.
What questions will the young person be asked during the consultation?
During the RAd Health Check, the GP or nurse may ask the young person patient about:
- Education and employment
- Home and Family
- Mental Health and well-being
- Alcohol and Drug Use
- Eating, Diet and Exercise
- Sexual health
Some young people feel reluctant to talk about personal and sensitive health issues even when they have good relationships with their parents and family. A health check in the GP clinic can provide a safe and confidential space to bring these issues into the open and to plan to address them. GPs and nurses conducting health checks are trained to ask about sensitive health issues and risky health behaviours in a way that is comfortable for young people. This usually means in private. Once the GP or nurse has established trust with the young person, and understands the issues raised, they will assess the level of risk and make a plan to address health risks, including involving the support of parents/guardians.
What is confidentiality and why does it matter?
Some young people might prefer to attend with their family member(s) or carers, others with friends, and others by themselves. The GP will respect the choice made by the young person. As in consultations with adults, GPs must keep information (that has been discussed in private) confidential, unless the young person permits them to disclose what was discussed. The important exceptions to this duty of confidentiality include if a young person is at serious risk of harming themselves or others or is at serious risk of harm from other people. In these situations, the GP or nurse is required to inform parents or other guardians to protect the young person’s wellbeing.
Does a young person need parental permission to get a health check?
A young person of any age presenting to a general practice for health care is entitled to have a consultation. Whether the doctor or nurse continues the consultation and/or presents treatment options to the young person depends on the young person’s maturity and understanding of what is involved.
In Victoria, all young people aged 18 years and over are considered adults and can consent to a full consultation or treatment on their own – parental consent is not required.
Young people under 18 years are considered ‘minors’ in the law; however, they also have a legal right to consent to medical treatment without parental consent providing they are assessed as being a ‘mature minor’ by the GP or nurse.
Being a mature minor means the young person has sufficient maturity and intelligence to understand fully the treatment being proposed, the short- and long-term effects and side effects, treatment options, consequences of non-treatment, and consequences should a parent(s) find out they had the treatment. The more complex the treatment, the more likely a parent/legal guardian will need to be involved to give consent to the treatment. A mature minor assessment is undertaken by the GP or nurse for each different treatment being proposed.
While there are no fixed ages at which young people become mature minors, most young people from 14 years generally have the decision-making ability to consent to simple treatments. Any issue which clouds judgement (eg severe depression or severe eating disorder) will compromise the young person’s ability to understand the implications of treatment, and a legal guardian must consent to the treatment.
If a parent is required to provide consent, either parent can provide this consent, unless there is a court order to the contrary. In contrast to consenting to medical treatment, young people under 18 years of age are not afforded the legal right to refuse necessary medical treatment.
For the RAd Health study, a young person can make their own health check appointment and attend without parental permission.
For more information, please visit https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/young-people-and-health-services
After the health check
A young person may request support after the health check. This might include referrals to specialist services (e.g. mental health support), which the GP will organise as part of the health check. A young person may need support from their parent or guardian following their appointment, and some resources to assist you with providing this care is available here