Understanding the systems, stakeholders and contexts that contribute to the sexual health and wellbeing of rural young people attending formal education environments
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Young people encounter varying information and education about sexual health across education, health and welfare sectors. There is little evidence available about how these sectors perceive their roles, those of others, and broader socio-cultural environments in the provision of sexual health education and information to young people in formal education environments.
To improve our understanding of what constitutes a well- functioning rural sexual health service system, the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH), Department of Education & Training school nursing program, Wodonga City Council, Gateway Health and local organisations and schools in northeast Victoria initiated discussions in 2014 about establishing an action research project. The project aim is to increase knowledge of what a school aged young person living in rural Victoria needs for good sexual health and how different sectors can better contribute to the sexual health needs of young people. Wodonga is a suitable sub region for the research as there is existing data about high reported rates of chlamydia and unplanned pregnancy in school populations. Additionally, a number of key organisations have the capacity to contribute to a coordinated response to the research process and the findings.
This project has informed the development of a Community of Practice which is operating on a monthly basis throughout 2016. Known as BERT (Building Ethical Relationships Together), the Community of Practice is being led by an expert facilitator, Professor Moira Carmody. Participants are from the health, education and welfare sectors. A resource kit is being developed from the BERT Community of Practice for use in other communities. The BERT Community of Practice is being evaluated to determine the extent to which it improves participants' knowledge, skills and confidence in supporting young people regarding sexual health, wellbeing and relationships.
Alana Hulme Chambers, Research Fellow
Kylie Stephens, Senior Health Promotion Manager
Department of Education and Training, Centre Against Violence, Gateway Health, Wodonga Senior Secondary College, Wodonga Middle Years College, Junction Support Services.
For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.