Media Release: Vulnerable youth left at risk as Federal Government Defund Australia’s Only National Youth led Sexual Health Organisation

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#saveYEAH
19 April 2016 

Vulnerable youth left at risk as Federal Government Defund Australia’s Only National Youth led Sexual Health Organisation

Young people’s Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates are rising, condom use is declining, yet the Federal Government has confirmed they are defunding Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) beyond June 30, 2016.

For over a decade YEAH has established itself as Australia’s only National youth led and youth focused sexual health promotion organisation. YEAH’s core programs and activities advance the 8 key strategic components of the Federal Government’s national STI strategy and have pioneered young people’s participation and leadership in increasing access to quality, inclusive, age appropriate and youth friendly sexual health information.

When asked why the Government would choose to remove funding for the organisation, a Government spokesperson said, it has made a sufficient investment in youth STI prevention by allocating funds through a recent tender process for a new web based resource. YEAH already delivers an extensive range of existing web-based programs. In 2015 it reached more than 900,000 people through many innovative online channels.

YEAH CEO Alischa Ross said “With more than 75% of all STIs occurring amongst young people aged 15-29 and a quarter of sexually active high school students reporting they have experienced unwanted or coerced sex, surely our Federal Government should be investing in more than just web based resources? Surely we need to be investing in a multi strategy approach including evidenced based practices of peer education, workshops, public awareness events and condom and educational resource distribution to address such a big health burden affecting young people?”

“Built on 7 years of minimal Government investment, it is difficult to understand why the Government would suddenly stop funding a national network of engaged young people leading sexual health education amongst their peers only to fund the development of a new web based resource designed at engaging the same population that have just been told there is no funding for their efforts to lead engagement with their peers?”

Yesterday YEAH formally invited the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley to meet with a group of YEAH’s young sexual health peer educators to discuss with them first-hand the impact of the work that they deliver in the hope of finding a solution to sustain the organisation’s unique programs and activities.

Representatives from relevant shadow Ministries are angered to learn that such valuable and evidenced based programs delivering real health benefits would be lost through such shortsighted Government decisions.

YEAH sexual health educator Tamsin Lewis said, “YEAH does so much good in the world and I am thankful everyday for the knowledge I have gained from the programs in order to better understand my own sexual health and help other young people understand theirs”.

YEAH’s Red Aware campaign has a current subscriber base of over 10,400, with upwards of 60 young people joining each week.

The national networks of young volunteers involved in the Agents of YEAH peer education program have already exceeded delivery of government funded KPIs for the 2016 financial year and the program continues to attract strong interest from young people wanting to join. YEAH engages with up to four times the number of people it receives funding to train.

“Funding YEAH is an investment in the future. We simply will not be establishing an improved sexual health and healthy relationship culture in Australia without Young people’s participation and leadership. Relying on a network of dedicated volunteers YEAH is the driving force supporting this leadership” says Ross.

Interviews available with youth representatives from The Agents of YEAH Program

YEAH CEO, Alischa Ross and Chair Person, Leigh Hocking.

All media enquiries: Karen Cochrane, 0467 855 533. Public Petition Campaign

 

Downloads APRIL 19 Media Release

Media Release: #saveYEAH

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#saveYEAH
14 April 2016 

Federal Government Defunds Australia’s Only National Youth led Sexual Health Organisation

As young people’s Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates rise and condom use declines, the Federal Government have indefensibly confirmed they are defunding Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) beyond June 30, 2016.

For over a decade Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) has established itself as Australia’s only National youth led and youth focused sexual health promotion organisation. YEAH’s core programs and activities advance the 8 key strategic components of the Federal Government’s national STI strategy and have pioneered young people’s participation and leadership in increasing access to quality, inclusive, age appropriate and youth friendly sexual health information.

Given over 75% of all STIs are occurring amongst young people aged 15-29 and a quarter of sexually active high school students have reported experiencing unwanted or coerced sex, we have to acknowledge it’s time to do more not less to support the empowerment of young people to develop the tools and skills they need to better navigate the physical, social and emotional aspects of their sexual health.

YEAH CEO, Alischa Ross said “Despite our efforts to highlight the Commonwealth and community investment that has enabled YEAH to build the largest and most established online and face to face reach around sexual health education with young people, the Health Minister’s Office and Departmental staff have stated they will not continue funding to sustain any of YEAH’s services post June 2016.”

“For 11 years YEAH has consistently delivered highly effective youth led sexual health promotion for young Australians. The decision by the Federal Government to defund YEAH is nothing less than outrageous; why throw away all that has been invested in building a highly successful grassroots youth organisation that now sees upwards of 60 young people joining our online Red Aware campaign each week?” says Ross.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of young people who turn to YEAH for online sexual health information, the organisation trains and manages the Agents of YEAH program, a national network of young volunteers working tirelessly in their local communities to improve sexual health knowledge and health outcomes amongst their peers.

“Our teams of young volunteers are passionately motivated by wanting to create real and positive cultural change amongst their peers when it comes to sexual health and respectful relationships”

Ms. Ross said. “The Health Minister is sending such a counter productive message to an army of willing young people lining up to volunteer to be trained in youth sexual health peer leadership, that suddenly their efforts to improve the inexcusable state of sexual health education is not valued. This is especially insulting since the funding that we have received to run programs in five states and territories is less than $500,000 per annum.”

“Young people’s participation and leadership is absolutely critical to the success of establishing an improved sexual health and healthy relationship culture in Australia. It can not and will not be achieved without the leadership of young people and YEAH is the driving force supporting this leadership. Defunding our programs will devastate the national network of young sexual health peer educators and dismantle their important and pioneering work in local communities”, says Ross

In February this year YEAH’s CEO was appointed by the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley, for a period of two years to provide expert advice as a member of her Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and STIs (MACBBVS). This decision came just weeks before the same Minister sanctioned defunding YEAH.

Interviews available with youth representatives from The Agents of YEAH Program,

YEAH CEO, Alischa Ross and Chair Person, Leigh Hocking.

All media enquiries: Karen Cochrane, 0467 855 533. Public Petition Campaign

Downloads APRIL 14 Media Release