Family Planning Victoria (FPV), with support from Study Melbourne, has launched a new sexual and reproductive health resource in a bid to overcome the social and structural barriers facing international students in Australia.
Dating in Australia: Stories from International Students, was developed by FPV and funded by Study Melbourne’s International Student Welfare Program, with the aim to benefit students who have limited reproductive and sexual health knowledge and face challenges navigating the Australian healthcare system. Created by FPV’s Schools and Community Education team the research and production of the video series was led by Jenny Walsh and the production of the online learning module by Bonnie Lee.
Developed for international students at Victorian universities, TAFEs and private colleges, primarily for students from China and India, this engaging resource consists of a comprehensive online sexual health education course, accompanied by five friendly, light-hearted, and informative YouTube videos discussing: pregnancy, contraception, and abortion; STIs and sexual health; dating; healthy relationships; and consent.
“What we heard from students through focus groups and individual interviews was that the main challenges to sexual health are both structural and social.” – Jenny Walsh
Research into international students in Australia show there is a 20 per cent increase in sexual activity and engaging in sexual behaviours for the first time since arriving in the country.
Areas of sexual health concern for heterosexual students include reported high rates of later term abortions; STI infections and low rates of asymptomatic screening; and low knowledge of sexual negotiation and healthy relationships.
For same sex attracted students, the issues were focused on vulnerability to unwanted sex and HIV/STI infection caused by lack of skills and confidence around sexual negotiation.
“International students in Australia are often left in vulnerable positions through lack of suitable sexual and reproductive health information, high costs, and stigma, and our hope is that Dating in Australia: Stories from International Students is a resource that will inform and engage students, as well as act as a conversation and education tool for universities, TAFEs, colleges and community health organisations.” – Claire Vissenga, FPV CEO
Don’t forget to share the resources available if your organisation works with international students.