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Red Aware @ Adelaide Schoolies by Greg Tropeano
Each year in late November thousands of South Australian school-leavers head to Victor Harbour for the Schoolies Festival. Schoolies is often portrayed by the media as a kind of Dionysian debauch; a weekend of binge drinking, illicit drug use and unsafe sexual behaviour. Not having attended Schoolies myself, I cannot attest to truth of this depiction, but I have it from reliable sources (the SA Agents of YEAH local leaders, Caitlyn and Miranda) that there is a rising trend among Schoolies Festival attendees to do away with condom use and instead opt for the morning after pill. While this may be reducing unwanted pregnancies, it in no way protects these young people from contracting and spreading STIs. Since young people make up around 75% of those newly diagnosed with STIs, Schoolies is a prime target in the battle for sexual health and awareness in South Australia. So on the morning of the 21st of November, Agents of YEAH peer educators joined forces with volunteers from QLife (a national counselling and referral service for LGBTI people) and intercepted schoolies goers at the Adelaide Central Bus Station before they departed. We were armed with 150 health and wellbeing ‘show bags’, which contained all sorts of goodies including condoms and lube, info regarding local sexual health services, emergency contraception and mental health services, juicy organic apples, and a bottle of cool spring water to help them all stay hydrated:
On the whole our tidings were received enthusiastically, aside from a few embarrassed teens who had their parents waiting with them (one of whom discreetly approached me while their parent had gone to the bathroom to get a show bag, then quickly stashed it away in the depths of their luggage). It was great to see the majority of young people in the bus station proudly adorned with our ever-popular “I <3 Safe Sex” snap bands and reading through some of the fliers that we provided. Let’s hope we made a difference. BIG thanks to the QLife volunteers for their efforts in organising this event!
Red Aware @ Gold Coast Schoolies by Shana-May Stringer
With a car jam packed full of safe sex snap bands, condom tins, information booklets and excited volunteers we made our way to the well known Schoolies week of celebrations!
We started off handing out the Red Aware packs and talked through the information booklet answering any questions they had, we stressed the importance of consent and that it is everyone’s responsibility to use protection not just “the guys”. We got a chance to educate these young people and get an insight in to their lives and perceptions. Even the prospect of influencing just one person to choose safe sex was the highlight of the evening. Lots of people just wanted to have a chat and thanked us, I believe it was our openness and warmth as well as our Red Aware packs that drew people in and made a positive impact on their night and possibly enlightened them on the truths about STI’s, their rights and responsibilities and cleared up some common misconceptions. The highlight of the evening for me was when a young guy hugged one of the volunteers. Overall our presence at Schoolies and the airport were positive and is an important organization that makes a big difference in young people’s lives by educating them about sexual health and STI awareness as well as allow them to relate and feel comfortable talking to another young person.