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Gender affirming care: guidelines and resources

The Sexual Health Infolink (SHIL) have collected key guidelines and resources to support gender affirming care of young people. These include clinical resources, patient information, links to services that offer psychosocial support, resources for family and friends of trans and gender diverse young people, and guidelines for making your service more accessible and appropriate for young people of diverse sexualities and genders. Find more about gender affirming care on the SHIL site.

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Sexual health promotion for young people with an experience of trauma

Engaging with young people who have experienced trauma around the topic of sexual health poses unique and sometimes complex challenges. An experience of trauma can lead to poorer health outcomes. It is important to have discussions about sexual health and relationships with young people from settings where there is a likelihood of trauma in a young person’s history – such as young people in Out Of Home Care or justice services. This will help them to have positive interactions and experiences, despite what their history may be. The way to achieve this is by empowering these young people to confidently make safe choices based on accurate information. This fact sheet may assist you when working with young people in Out Of Home Care around the topic of sexual health. Download Factsheet – Sexual health promotion for young people with an experience of trauma.

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Sexual health promotion with young people with a disability

People with disability are a diverse group of people with diverse needs and experiences who are too often forgotten in sexual health promotion. The United Nations (2009) identifies people with disability as ‘those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. People with disability have the right to have sexual relationships, to access sexual health services and information, and to make decisions about their own bodies. Yet young people with disability often have numerous barriers to attaining good sexual health and wellbeing. It is commonly assumed that they don’t or can’t have sex, or that they don’t have diverse gender or sexual identities. Where these assumptions are held by support workers or professionals, this may impact a person’s ability to access sexual health information and services. Young people with disability, particularly young people with intellectual disability, may receive limited sexual health education at school and may therefore miss out on learning key sexual health messages. Sexual health programs and resources are often inaccessible or not suited to the person’s particular needs or circumstances. For more information on sexual health promotion with young people with a disability, see the references here. Download Sexual health promotion with young people with a disability.

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Using the Play Safe website

The NSW Health Play Safe website has everything young people need to know about safe sex, condoms, STI testing and treatment. It also has a range of interactive features for self-assessment and peer support. Ensure you are familiar with the website so you can help young people use the site to find the information and support they need. Features of the website are also great tools to use alongside your clients. Below are a few of the great features on the site. See playsafe.health.nsw.gov.au for more. Download Using the Play Safe website fact sheet PDF

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Consent, age & the law

In NSW, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years. However, young people often express their sexuality earlier through behaviour with their peers as part of their normal sexual development. The challenge for the law and those working with young people is to ensure young people are protected from sexual exploitation but not disempowered or criminalised for normal sexual exploration. Distinguishing the behaviours that require a child protection or legal response, and those which represent healthy sexual development can be difficult. Resources that can help include: child protection policies and procedures, mandatory reporting guidelines, and guides to understand, identify and respond to sexual behaviours in children and young people. For more information on consent and the law, and sexual behaviours in children and young people, see the references here. Download Consent and the law fact sheet

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Sexual health promotion with young people of diverse gender and sexuality

This factsheet uses the acronym LGBTIQA+ to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual people. The ‘+’ symbol refers to individuals who are not represented by these terms and who are not cisgendered or heterosexual. Sexual health promotions often focus on messages for the heterosexual community. This provides LGBTIQA+ young people with little relevant information about how to look after their sexual health. High rates of STIs and pregnancy among LGBTIQA+ young people indicate the need for health promotions that are inclusive and relevant. This Fact Sheet below may assist you when working with these communities. Download Sexual health promotion with young people of diverse gender and sexuality fact sheet PDF

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Sexual health promotion with culturally & linguistically diverse young people

Engaging with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) young people around the topic of sexual health poses unique challenges. CALD communities in Australia encompass over 200 different language groups. This means that what may be appropriate for one person or community may not be appropriate for another. Sexual health can also be a very sensitive topic in many of these cultures. This fact sheet may assist you when working with CALD young people around the topic of sexual health. Download Sexual health promotion with culturally & linguistically diverse young people fact sheet PDF

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Sexual health promotion with Aboriginal young people

We need to be highly proactive and aware of cultural requirements when working with Aboriginal young people. These young people can face many barriers in accessing sexual health services and education, including a lack of access to culturally appropriate resources and services. This is also a culturally diverse group. Materials or approaches that are appropriate for one person or community may not be appropriate for others. Aboriginal young people are a priority population group in the NSW Health STI Strategy. The following fact sheet may assist you when working with Aboriginal young people around sexual health. Download Sexual health promotion with Aboriginal young people fact sheet PDF

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Sexual health activity evaluation tools

Evaluating sexual health programs can test the effectiveness of activities in prompting behaviour change and any increases in knowledge. The results can be used to advocate for more sexual health programs and provide information for reporting on program outcomes for funders and managers. You can print the evaluation sheet on the next page and use it at the end of activities and programs. You may choose to use a pre and post evaluation to track changes in knowledge and intention. The evaluation sheet template can be adapted to investigate the success of specific program objectives. Download Evaluation sheet template PDF

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Sexual health group work

Providing sexual health information to young people in groups helps create positive attitudes toward prevention, testing and treatment. This approach can counter negative messages. Sexual Health Group Work (I’ve add this in) invites young people to take responsibility for providing their peers with positive messages and strategies for sexual health and wellbeing. Group work uses proven, creative tools to encourage young people to canvass options, practise skills and explore values. The resource kit includes a range of activities that use group dynamics to explore an issue or generate ideas. The quality of these activities often depends on questioning, debriefing and reporting during and after the activity. You are encouraged to practise group work skills and obtain training in this if possible. Download Sexual health group work fact sheet PDF

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Talking to parents, guardians & carers

In this fact sheet, ‘parents’ includes guardians, carers and any other significant adult that may encourage, or hinder, young people’s engagement with sexual health. Actively engaging with parents about sexual health programs and activities may overcome potential misunderstandings and build parental trust and support for your work with young people. Research shows parents want their children to be well informed about sex, relationships and sexual health. Parents want to be kept informed about programs being offered. They also want reassurance that the people providing the information have the skills and qualifications to do the work in a way that respects the diversity of values among young people and their families. Parents appreciate communication about programs and their content, and value opportunities to discuss questions they have with workers. Parents often lack confidence in fulfilling their role as sexual health educators for their children. They often request information and guidance in sharing their values with their children. And they often ask for help with having conversations about sex, including how to deal with sexual health information prominent in the community. Download Talking to parents, guardians & carers fact sheet PDF

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Talking about sexual health

Youth workers are trusted as a source of information on sexual health by young people. They may want to talk to you about their relationships and sexual concerns, but want you to raise the subject first. So how do you start the conversation? The Talking About Sexual Health tool and guide are great approaches to facilitate conversation with young people about sexual health. These resources can assist you to understand what their thoughts and concerns might be, and how you can support and assist them in making informed decisions in relation to their sexual health. The tool is designed to jog your memory, with a quick glance you will be able to start the conversation and keep it on track. Adapt the tool as necessary for the young people you work with. The key steps of the conversation will generally be the same, however, the language you use or the opportunity to start the conversation will always be slightly different. This will depend on your service, the young person you are talking with, and the amount of time you have. Download Talking About Sexual Health Tool Talking About Sexual Health Guide

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Exploring values

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to values, just differing thoughts and opinions. It is possible for our values to shift and change over time, depending on our life experiences, the people we meet and the things we learn. It is also important to note that personal values may not align with organisational or professional values – and that’s OK. However, in planning sexual health interventions for young people, we need to have considered and reconciled these differing values. Download Exploring values fact sheet PDF

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Key sexual health messages

Clinical knowledge can change over time and there are many sources of authoritative information for workers and young people listed in this resource kit, such as the Play Safe website. It is important that health, youth and other workers use the same key messages about young people’s sexual health. The messages below are consistent in all the material in this resource kit. They are designed to help young people address their sexual health needs and concerns. You are in a unique position to design or identify opportunities to communicate these messages to young people and to guide them in developing strategies to apply this learning in real life situations. The Resource Kit includes activities chosen and designed to generate discussions with young people and provide opportunities to convey each of these key sexual health messages. Download Key sexual health messages fact sheet PDF

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Condom Protocol

You don’t need to be an expert in sexual health. But as a worker, you are in a great position to give young people the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and the skills to use condoms correctly. Making condoms available to young people is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to protect their health – and the health of our population. This guide covers the ins and outs of providing condoms to young people, legal considerations and strategies for implementing condom distribution at your service. Download Condom Protocol PDF Condom Protocol Guide PDF    

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Model Policies

This policy ensures all clients have access to the information and support they need to achieve optimal sexual health and wellbeing. It outlines the rationale for developing a safe, non-judgemental and sex positive environment that provides the best possible sexual health outcomes for young people. Download Model Policies PDF

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Organisation Checklist

It will help you plan sexual health activities as part of your work. It is based on the five areas of action for health promotion in the integrated health promotion kit by Vic Health. Please use this checklist alongside the Youth Friendly Checklist for Health Services, Working with Aboriginal people and communities – Health and community services audit. Download Organisation Checklist PDF

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Sexual Health Advocacy

It includes advice for working with all young people, including those who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, LGBTIQA+, and young people with disability. Anyone working with young people can use this tool – including workers in youth services programs, schools, sports clubs, homelessness services, and youth advocacy and legal services. Sexual health initiatives are most effective when delivered as part of larger, holistic program provided by trusted workers. However, organisations may face barriers when being proactive with young people about their sexual health. These can include workers feeling it is not part of their role, management seeing sexual health as ‘too risky’, competing priorities, lack of resources and concerns around parent/guardian consent. This tool addresses these concerns by providing information to integrate sexual health into pre-existing programs and frameworks using Kotter’s 8-step change model. Anyone, at any level in an organisation, can be an effective advocate for change. By following these easy steps, you can help build your organisation’s capacity to support the sexual health of young people. Consider using this tool alongside the organisational checklist. It is designed to help you plan sexual health activities as part of your work. Download Sexual Health Advocacy Tool PDF

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