Youth sexual health takes to the screen

HEALTH MATTERS: YHA's Alvin Hava introduces the Youth Sexual Health Project short films on Wednesday. Photo: Derek Barry

HEALTH MATTERS: YHA's Alvin Hava introduces the Youth Sexual Health Project short films on Wednesday. Photo: Derek Barry

Six short films featuring young Indigenous people in Mount Isa are set to transform the way local young people think about sexual health and safer sexual practices.

The films cover sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, condom access and use, pregnancy and contraception, reducing sexual health stigma, safe sexual relationships and STI and HIV/AIDS knowledge.

The idea came from Mount Isa youth organisation Young People Ahead who showed all six films at the launch of the collaborative Youth Sexual Health Project on Wednesday at the Terrace Gardens.

YPA manager Alvin Hava said the two minute films were the result of workshopping with Mount Isa young people.

“The information in the films was fully developed by youth for youth, so it’s not some idea that has been imposed on them - It’s their work, and they can be rightly proud of it,” Mr Hava said.

The idea is to normalise talk about safer sexual practices and access to the Sexual Health Clinic, to reduce the stigma around seeking help or advice about sexually transmitted infections.

“They especially wanted to eliminate the feeling of shame around the topic, so their peers would feel comfortable discussing their problems with each other and with health professionals,” Mr Hava said.

“They wanted to increase local knowledge around access to services – where the Sexual Health Clinic is, and what they would find there,” Mr Hava said.

The clinic has now moved from Doreen St to the NWHHS cottage at 1 Barkly Highway, opposite the swimming centre.

Lisa Davies Jones, the Chief Executive of North West Hospital and Health Service, said it was a smart move to have the project driven by the city’s young people.

“Research has shown that sexual health interventions benefit from community involvement by the target group.

“We know that it’s important to change attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the increased rates of STIs in young Indigenous people living in Mount Isa, and the young people involved in this project are doing just that, by being prepared to take the lead and bring these topics out into the open.

“I think it’s an exciting and innovative project and I am thrilled that the NWHHS is a partner in this,” Ms Davies Jones said.

The project was fully funded by Queensland Health and is a collaborative venture between the NWHHS’s Mount Isa Sexual Health services, YPA and Headspace.

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