• To contribute important new knowledge about the sexual health of Indigenous youth people, particularly links between sexual decision-making, risk behaviour and high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs). The study has three interrelated aims, each of which builds upon the other:
    • To investigate sexual behaviour and sexual decision making in the context of the everyday life experience and aspirations of Indigenous young people under 25 in the Northern Territory (NT), Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA)
    • To understand young people’s decisions about their sexual health and required health services
    • To increase the capacity of service providers to deliver effective services for young people.
  • To examine the role relationships play in a young person’s health and wellbeing, including their sexual health through youth friendly activities such as body mapping, risk mapping and scenarios.

In Australia, young Indigenous people’s sexual health is challenged on a number of fronts. High rates of STIs are a major contributor towards infertility, long-term disability, and adverse pregnancy outcomes including ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term birth, low birth weight for infants, congenital infection and death. Inflammatory and ulcerative STIs also increase the risk of transmission of HIV approximately three – five times.

Indigenous sexual health has been a priority, with many interventions addressing this issue. Despite this, Indigenous youth continue to bear a significant burden of sexual ill health. International studies demonstrate that young people’s sexual health is affected by their cultural and social circumstances and interventions must take these into account for best outcomes.

Implications for policy and practice:

The project will provide in depth knowledge and understanding of how sexuality and relationships are understood and negotiated by young people in the context of their social and cultural worlds.

This understanding will allow identification of youth risk behaviours and the major influences on their lives. This knowledge will be translated into education and health promotion programs and resources which are effective and sustainable. These programs will target young people, their families, service providers and the broader community. The findings will be transferable to policy making, service development and implementation.

Chief Investigator:
  • Kate Senior
Project Manager:
  • Belinda Davison
Contact information:
Project dates:

2009 - 2013.