Secondary students' sexual health survey

June 10, 2019

Sexually active Australian secondary students tend to engage in responsible sexual behaviour but there is still room to improve knowledge and education for this group, according to a nationwide survey conducted by La Trobe University.

The sixth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, conducted in 2018 and released today, found 47 per cent of Year 10-12 students taking the survey had engaged in sexual intercourse. Of sexually active respondents, 76 per cent had sex at home; 65 per cent with a boyfriend or girlfriend; 62 percent often or always used a condom; and 86 per cent with somebody about the same age.

Lead researcher at La Trobe University's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society Dr Christopher Fisher said the survey asked 6327 Year 10-12 students in Government, Catholic and Independent schools from each state and territory, about their sexual behaviour and knowledge of sexually transmitted infections.

"Overall, young Australians have good knowledge of sexual health, are behaving responsibly and are actively seeking out trusted, reliable sources of information," Dr Fisher said.

He said more work is needed to help improve this age group's level of knowledge of HPV (the human papillomavirus) and viral hepatitis; to decrease reports of unwanted sexual behaviour; and to further increase rates of condom use.

"This survey has evolved over time and is a key tool to support and inform policies around sexual health education and disease prevention, but I hope our report helps bring awareness to the wider community as well," Dr Fisher said.

The survey, which started in 1992 and occurs every five years, is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Dr Fisher said Australia is one of the few countries conducting such a study, making it significant internationally

"There are many positive findings, including that those young people who are not yet sexually active don't feel pressured to start having sex until they're ready. Also, young people turn to a wide variety of sources of information to educate themselves about sexual health in addition to getting sexual health information in the school system. GPs are the most trusted source of information by far followed by female friends and mothers," Dr Fisher said.

The survey's findings included:

Knowledge and Education

Behaviours

Media Contact: Kathryn Powley - k.powley@latrobe.edu.au +61 3 9479 3491 | +61 456 764 371
-end-


La Trobe University

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