Abstract: As a group, Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes than other Australians, including in the area of sexual health. Indigenous Australians have substantially higher rates of STIs, BBVs and teen pregnancy than non-Indigenous Australians, particularly for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Efforts to reduce these high rates are compounded by the historical and social context of Indigenous Australians. Although many Australians may experience elements of shame and embarrassment when they access health services for STIs and BBVs, for many Indigenous Australians there also exists a mistrust of ‘mainstream’ (non-Indigenous specific) health services as a result of past injustices and racially differentiated treatment. Historically, Indigenous Australians diagnosed with an STI were segregated and placed into privately run hospitals (‘lock hospitals’) that were in poor condition. Sexual health education programs are one way of promoting sexual health for Indigenous Australians. They are typically social and behavioural interventions that try to reduce the risk of exposure to the individual and community by using strategies such as counselling, education, health promotion activities and community development activities. Interventions can include: • community-based programs and strategies • providing sexual health education in schools • training the workforce, such as health workers, teachers, social workers, youth workers and other professionals, in sexual health. Sexual health education programs aim to: • reduce misinformation • increase knowledge • provide positive values and attitudes • increase people’s skills in making informed decisions and acting upon them • improve perceptions about peer groups and social norms • increase young people’s communication with parents, caregivers and other trusted adults. There is strong evidence available from international studies that increasing a person’s level of sexual health knowledge does not result in increased sexual activity and has a positive effect on sexual health outcomes. This resource sheet examines available evidence for the effectiveness of sexual health education programs for Indigenous Australians.
Natalie A Strobel, James Ward, 2012, Education programs for Indigenous Australians about sexually transmitted infections and bloodborne viruses, Volume:Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, Report, viewed 10 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3445.