Sexual Heath Education for Multicultural Young People (including Migrant and Refugee) is a Priority
Barriers to sexual and reproductive health
YEP recognises the unique relationship and sexual health needs of young people who are from a migrant, refugee or multicultural background. Talking about sexual health is taboo in many cultures and communities, which is often one of several barriers to accessing adequate healthcare.
Whilst there may be a cultural expectation of no sex before marriage in many cultures, it still important for young people to be aware, informed and empowered around our sexual health before this happens.
If you are exploring sex, sexuality, relationships, your body, etc. – that’s great! We are sex-positive here at YEP. We have a list of resources below for extra info!
Why do I need to know about sexual health?
Sexual health isn’t just about sex, it includes all things related to relationships and our bodies too- like healthy relationships, consent, periods, contraception and just generally understanding our bodies. Sexual health education is essential even if you aren’t having sex and even if you aren’t planning on having sex.
If sex and sexuality is taboo in your culture, maybe you haven’t had “the talk” or aren’t talking about it at home, and maybe you aren’t talking about it with friends from within your community either. Maybe you are talking about it with your friends but you aren’t receiving enough information that is culturally appropriate or sensitive. In one study, it was found that migrant women’s perceptions and experiences of contraception are shaped by a multitude of factors including personal, cultural and societal factors. So receiving sex ed that takes culture into account is important. Maybe you aren’t wanting to have sex until marriage. It’s OK if you are waiting and OK if you aren’t. It can also be great to have knowledge so we can support our friends with their sexual health, such as supporting them to make a contraceptive choice that is right for them.
Without appropriate sexual health info, multicultural young people may be under-prepared to navigate sexual situations when they happen. This places people at higher risk for sexual vulnerability (for example, having unprotected sex when you didn’t want to) which can have a negative impact on your mental health. Having adequate sexual health education can help prevent or treat things like Sexually transmitted infections, which is important for our physical health too.
Sexual Health Services in WA:
- Hepatitis WA have services tailored to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) young people that emphasise cultural sensitivity and anonymity. Located in Northbridge, Perth.
- Ishar Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health provides CaLD health services to women and people assigned female at birth. It provides a female GP, midwife and psychologists and is LGBTQIA+ friendly. Located in Mirrabooka, (just slightly North of Perth).
- Magenta is a peer-based project dedicated to providing services to support and promote the health and safety of people involved in the sex industry in WA. They provide CaLD services. They are located in Northbridge, Perth.
- M Clinic is an appointment-only sexual health clinic in Perth that provides, confidential, non-judgmental STI, HIV, and BBV testing & treatment for men who have sex with men, trans people and non-binary people. They offer interpreter services free of charge. Located in West Perth.
- Midland Women’s Health Care Place is a women’s only centre offering 1-1 counselling and groups for issues including relationship breakdown, DV support, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other life stressors. Offering support, connection and empowerment. They provide CaLD health services. *MWHCP welcomes people who identify as women, nonbinary people and people assigned female at birth.
- SHQ have services tailored to CaLD young people that emphasise cultural sensitivity and anonymity and have interpreters available. Located in Northbridge, Perth.
- Womens Health and Family Services (WHFS) services include women’s sexual & reproductive health clinics, counselling, drug and alcohol support, domestic violence, mental health and other health services for women and their families. They provide CaLD health services. They are located in Northbridge (Perth) and Joondalup (Northern Suburbs).
Counselling and Mental Health Services:
- The Culturally Diverse Psychological Service (CDPS) is a free mental health service for people aged 12+ that provides short term, culturally sensitive, and evidence-based counselling to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They are located in Leederville, Mirrabooka and South of the river.
- Headspace provides counselling and support to people aged 12-25. They have centres throughout WA.
- Ishar Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health provides CaLD health services to women and people assigned female at birth. It provides psychologists and is LGBTQIA+ friendly.
- ASeTTS provides holistic services for refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives. You may benefit from ASeTTS services if you have faced war-related trauma before you came to Australia; you are having problems in your life that relate to refugee trauma and/or your migration experience. Services: counselling, community development, family & child services and youth support services.
- Multicultural Futures provides a safe, free and confidential service for individuals, families, and carers from migrant or refugee background experiencing difficulties with mental health and/or alcohol and other drugs. They are available to anyone in South of the River, including Mandurah.
- Multicultural Services Centre of Western Australia Inc. (MSC) supports CaLD people aiming to address the unmet needs of migrants and refugees. They provide professional mental health assessment, treatment and management; culturally and linguistically appropriate counselling; psycho-education and psychosocial intervention. Located in North Perth.
Online Resources for Sexual Health:
- The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) is a voice for migrant & refugee women’s wellbeing in Australia and has an online catalogue to search for sexual health info. Click here.
Academic Studies & Research
The Migrant Blood-Borne Virus and Sexual Health Survey (MIBSS) survey was completed by people born in Sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and North-East Asia living in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland. The survey included questions to understand peoples’ knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to sexual health and blood-borne viruses. Online data collection ceased in June 2021. You can read about it here.
Want more info?
Whilst YEP has created a small number of resources to cater for some young people from these communities it is not an exhaustive list and we are always looking to increase our content. If you are a young person from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community and you have an idea about some new content you would like us to create please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet you may like to join our Youth Reference Group. You can find out more about our youth reference group here: Jobs & Volunteering.
Are you looking for more youth and CaLD friendly sexual health services in Perth? Check out our Referral Resource and look for the CaLD-friendly symbol!
Wong, J. P.-H., Macpherson, F., Vahabi, M., & Li, A. (2017). Understanding the sexuality and sexual health of Muslim young people in Canada and other Western countries: A scoping review of research literature. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 26(1), 48–59. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.261-C1
Ali-Faisal, S. (2018). Crossing sexual barriers : Predictors of sexual guilt and sexual anxiety among young Canadian and American Muslim adults. 27(3), 181–194. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.2017-0039