Having hepatitis does not mean that you should be treated differently from anyone else. This applies to all aspects of your life, including maintaining privacy, buying or renting goods or services, obtaining health care services, applying for a job, or getting a promotion at work.

In Australia there are laws that protect you from being discriminated against. If something happens where you think you have been treated unfairly because you have hepatitis, you can get advice from:

There are a few situations where it is legal to treat people with hepatitis B and C differently. You can read about these here:

Who do you have to tell?

Discrimination by health care providers

In all states and territories in Australia there are specific health care complaint laws and health care complaint commissions. You have a right to complain if you are treated unfairly or are unhappy with the quality of service you have received from an individual health care worker or a health care service.1 This includes unfair treatment that might not be covered by anti‑discrimination law.

This could include:

  • being refused a service
  • not being treated in a professional manner
  • not being allowed to make informed choices, for example being tested for hepatitis without your permission
  • inadequate care, such as not being given information about your treatment options
  • inappropriate behaviour, such as harassment
  • inadequate diagnosis, for example being given incorrect or insufficient information about your medical condition
  • denial of, or restriction of access to your health care records
  • breaking confidentiality without reasonable grounds.2

If you feel that you have been discriminated against by a health care worker or service, you should contact the health care complaints commission in your state or territory. You can find a list on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website.

People immigrating to Australia

The Migration Act is exempt from discrimination laws, which means that the Department of Home Affairs can decide not to grant you a visa because of your health. If you are applying for a visa to live in Australia, the expected costs of your health care can affect whether you will be granted a visa. This is called the immigration health requirement.3

The Department of Home Affairs will work out how much your treatment will cost over the duration of your visa, or over 10 years if it is a permanent visa. If the cost is less than $49,000 then it will not affect your visa application. For most people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, the cost of treatment should not affect their visa.

For a small group of people with advanced liver disease or multiple health issues, the immigration health requirement may still affect your visa application. It is recommended that you seek help from a registered migration agent  or lawyer before lodging a visa application.


References

  1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. (2019). My Healthcare Rights. Retrieved from Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care: safetyandquality.gov.au/publications-and-resources/resource-library/australian-charter-healthcare-rights-second-edition-a4-accessible

  2. Reach Out. (n.d.). All about your health-care rights. Retrieved from ReachOut.com: https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-are-your-healthcare-rights

  3. Department of Home Affairs. (18 December 2019). Meeting our requirements: Health. Retrieved from Department of Home Affairs Immigration and Citizenship: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/health

Page updated: 9 April 2020