Breaking the taboo around adolescent sexual health
SCHOOL aged students across the region got into the nitty gritty of all things sexual health on June 15 and 16 through a unique program.
Positive Adolescent Sexual Health (PASH), is a network of 38 organisations which all contribute resources and expertise to fill the gap around sexual health for young people.
Programmed by young people, youth workers and health experts, the PASH 2017 two-day conference at Lismore Southern Cross University's Whitebrook Theatre, was delivered to High School students- years 9, 11, and 12- and young people from across the region.
Sarah Davis, PASH Project Officer said the "highly successful” program is in it's fourth year on the north coast.
"Young people enjoy the permission to be able to talk about sex, and are actually quite comfortable about it,” Ms Davis said.
"They don't often get the opportunity to talk about it. We focus on not only reproduction and STIs, but negotiating sex, consent, pleasure, gender and identity and safe partying. The program builds on the risk reduction framework that schools do and makes it about the whole person and their choice.
"Stigma and discrimination are hampering young people to seek health behaviours, including accessing services.”
Among the guest presenters was a lawyer, several health professionals and a sexologist.
The program recognises people aged 15-29 years account for more than 75% of STI notifications, and Northern NSW holds one of the highest Chlamydia notifications in NSW.
Trained facilitators known as Peer Educator Engaging Peers or PEEPS, can get involved with PASH through their participating school or Casino Youth Service.
The program featured an extensive program of workshops, talks, multimedia and arts based platforms to develop skills and healthy behaviours around issues of sex, sexuality, sexual health, body image, sex and the law, bullying, homophobia, unplanned pregnancy, consent, where to get help, social media, sex and love online and healthy sexual boundaries.
Part of the program focused on skills and development and specific behaviour education around condom use, how to reduce STI risk, and how to access STI testing and treatment.
PEEP Brendon Richter said for the most part, kids were engaging and responding positively.
"Most of the kids I've spoken to have really enjoyed it and would like to come back ,” Mr Richter said.