- Concerns over GPs treating students in Victorian schools without parental consent
- By Monique Hore
- Contributed by: Jules ( 1 article in 2017 )
DOCTORS will have the power to treat students as young as 12 in schools even if parents refuse their consent.
GPs will consult at 100 Victoria high schools for up to one day a week as part of a $43.8 million program.
Guidelines released on Thursday show that even if a parent “expressly states” that a doctor should not [treat] their child, the GP can if they deem the teen mature enough.
“Any student who wants to see the GP will be permitted to make an appointment,” the policy said.
“The GP will decide if the young person is mature enough to provide consent to any medical treatment for the prevailing issue.”
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said parents should be included in any decision affecting their child at school.
The program previously sparked concern about girls as young as 12 being handed the pill in school.
“Parental rights and responsibility over the health and wellbeing of their child must not be ignored or dismissed,” Mr Wakeling said.
Parents Victoria’s Gail McHardy said the school-based doctors could benefit children who were suffering mental health issues or were the victims of violence.
“Not children are all living in a perfect world,” she said.
“There are children that are in challenging family situations, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so it is important that they can access services.
“It’s our understanding that the GPs will certainly be encouraging the students to have open communication with their parent or guardian.”
Education Minister James Merlino said it was “ordinary practice” that teenagers deemed mature minors could be treated by doctors at any Victorian clinic without parental consent.
“As a health professional, it is for a GP to assess if a young person is a mature minor, not a politician,” he said.
“We know young people have some of the lowest GP attendance rates, meaning many are missing out on the vital healthcare they need.”
The program will be rolled out in 20 schools at the start of term one later this month.
Doctors will be placed in another 40 schools from term three, with the final 40 on board by the 2018.