CODE 2, VOL 32, NO 22 : 27 july 2018

New Australian Government electronic health records database

You will likely have seen and heard a lot of media attention in the past week relating to the federal government ‘My Health Record’. 

Many reports are suggesting reasons why individuals should opt out of the database, others are saying you should stay in the system and have your records become available in the electronic database.
I encourage every member to access the available information and make their own decision about whether or not to opt out. You can find out more information at this government website here.

I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you that I have made the decision to opt out. Part of my decision to opt out was consideration of who might be able to obtain my health records. As the General Secretary of a trade union, I considered the access to my medical information from the perspective of an employer accessing the records.

If you choose to allow for your health record to be included in the database, your entire medical history is available to any practitioner authorised to access the system. 

If you are injured or ill, and cannot work, and your employer has a medical authority to discuss or access copies of your medical information, under the new system any practitioner will be able to access your entire medical history, including any practitioner that may be providing advice to your employer.

This is potentially going to become the default during a return to work assessment process via an independent medical examiner. And it’s also likely that your employer will ask your treating medical practitioner to discuss or provide copies of your records should they have a medical authority and the relevant medical practitioner considers the requested information to be relevant to the circumstances.

I am also concerned with the security of the information, now and into the future. Many high profile people within the medical profession are opting out citing concerns about privacy and the ability of police, the Australian Tax Office and other government agencies getting access to the record without a court order.

I acknowledge there may be potential benefits of all practitioners having access to all your health history.  However, I wanted to ensure you were aware of any potential employment related risks associated with the ‘My Health Record’ and could factor that into your decision about whether or not to opt out.

Direct Mode Communications (GWN)

QFES has, following much work into analysing and assessing existing radio communications, made the decision to implement a change in incident communications.

From 1 August 2018, following extensive consultation with your union, all urban environment incident communications will utilise the ‘direct’ mode channel as the default.

New Standing Orders and Communications Plans are being developed and implemented by QFES.

Information for BAOs who are also either FIU, BA Hazmat or Tech Rescue

Following disputation at the industrial commission, Fire and Rescue have reported they have identified and contacted every BAO affected by your union’s dispute regarding allowances.

All BAOs who hold FIU, BA Hazmat or Tech Rescue qualifications should now have had their allowances resumed, and should have been contacted about applicable backpay. If you fall into this category, and you have not been contacted by QFES, please call the Employee Relations Unit on (07) 3635 3369.

This information ONLY applies to BAOs who hold one of the above three speciality qualifications and used to receive an allowance for that qualification but had it stopped, and who either have paid back the allowance to QFES, or who have not received backpay for the period since their allowance payments stopped.

This information is not relevant to any other BAOs.


John Oliver - General Secretary

Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary 
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD