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Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS and the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition have called on the Federal Government to formally include sexual health guidelines in the national curriculum, following the release of a national youth survey today showing overwhelming support for standardised teaching.
The ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ survey of over 1200 young people – commissioned by AYAC and YEAH – found that 80 per cent of respondents agreed that lessons about sex and sexual health should be the same in every Australian school.
YEAH CEO, Alischa Ross said the survey was further evidence that the current clinical, scientific and anatomical approach to sexual health education in Australian schools was not meeting the needs of students.
“This survey voices the needs and expectations of young people, who are decisively telling the Government that gaps do exist in the current model and that we need a nationally consistent approach to sex and sexual health education in schools,” AYAC Deputy Director (Young People), Maia Giordano, said.
“The Australian Curriculum must include clear and definitive guidelines for the inclusion of comprehensive, youth friendly and age appropriate sexual health and development information. The curriculum should be delivered incrementally from year levels 5- 12 and in all Australian schools.” ??68 per cent of survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that sexual health peer educators and sexual health educators from community organisations were the preferred choice of educator.
Further, 74 per cent agreed that they would prefer the person teaching them about sex and sexual health to be ‘a little bit older’.
“YEAH peer educators – trained people around the ages of 18-26 who deliver sexual health education – have been incredibly successful in engaging young people and communicating information about sexual health and the safe sex message,” Ms Ross said.
“If the Federal Government is serious about addressing the sexual health in Australia, then we ask them to provide funding for peer educators to run sexual health workshops in every school across the nation,” Ms Ross said.
Ms Giordano said the rapid rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections was a sign that the current approach to sexual education in schools was failing.
“We need a consistent national approach to sex education for all Australian school students and the survey findings should inform the development of the new curriculum.
“We call on the Federal Government to listen to what Australia’s young people are saying and introduce sexual health curriculum in all Australian schools that meets their needs,” Ms Giordano said.
The survey also found:
– Only 32 per cent agreed that health and physical education teachers were a preferred choice for teaching sexual health in schools
– 98 per cent said Healthy Relationship (respect/choice), Safe Sex, STIs and Contraception (98 per cent), Accessing youth health services (97 per cent), Sexuality (94 per cent) should be taught about sex and sexual health in Australian schools
– 88 per cent of respondents in the Let’s Talk About Sex National Youth Survey think outside of schools, sex and sexual health information for young people should be delivered through ‘educational websites/ online’, 82 per cent said at ‘youth focused public events’, and 77 per cent said at youth peer education programs.
The survey data – measuring young Australian’s opinions, experiences and needs around access to sexual health information and education – was included in a joint submission to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in response to the Draft Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education report.
YEAH is Australia’s only national youth led and Commonwealth Government funded safe sex education organisation. AYAC is Australia’s non-government youth affairs peak body.