SEXrurality Conference 2017 - Event Wrap Up

The third SEXrurality Conference was held on 1 & 2 August 2017 at Grange Cleveland Winery in Lancefield, Victoria. Coordinated by the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH) the conference brought together over 150 delegates to learn and discuss topics and issues related to rural sexual health.

The conference was opened by Ann Marie Thomas MP and she launched the CERSH online learning modules for GPs and rural health professionals. The opening plenary session of Day One included presentations from sexual health expert, Prof Kit Fairley; high-profile writer and broadcaster, Clementine Ford and the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships team from Deakin University. The tone was set for an inclusive and informative conference.

Following the lunch break the delegates split into two streams for the afternoon sessions.  The session focusing on Emerging Sexual Health Issues and Opportunities for Diverse Communities showcased some inspiring peer education programs operating across rural Victoria and held a panel discussion on effective approaches to embracing diversity and equity in rural sexual health. The concurrent stream focused on Improving Sexual Health through Social Media and Digital Technology and included presentations from researchers and health workers on topics such as pornography, mobile phone apps and educational robots.

Once the conference day was over it was time for networking and stimulating conversations over wine and cheese, followed by a three-course meal and entertainment from regional award-winning musician, Benny Walker.

The plenary session on Day Two focused on medical termination of pregnancy (MTOP), with women’s health advocate Marilyn Beaumont receiving a standing ovation for her inspiring presentation on the history of abortion access in Victoria. Dr Paddy Moore from Royal Women’s Hospital continued the discussion onto the current context of abortion service provision in rural Victoria.

A presentation from CERSH and Gateway Health showcased recent research providing rigorous evidence to better understand the clinical and patient aspects of MToP provision in rural Victoria. The morning session ended with an informative panel discussion from rural practitioners who provide MToP across regional Victoria.

The afternoon sessions on Day Two saw an impressive lineup of presentations from experienced researchers, health professionals and medical students across two themes; Collaborations Across Sectors and Settings to Improve Sexual Health, and Sexual Health Research Involving Rural Communities. The diversity of presentations saw a wide range of topics from HIV studies, to condom access, as well as collaborative approaches to improving rural services and issues related to culturally diverse communities.

Following the final presentations delegates made their way for one last session in the main room to hear a wrap up of the four main conference themes. The energy from the group remained high, and feedback as delegates left for the trip home was overwhelmingly positive.

The team from CERSH would like to thank all the presenters and delegates who made the conference a great success and we look forward to bringing you another inspiring and informative rural sexual health conference in 2019.