We are very pleased to see ACT Government funding support announced today by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Education Shane Rattenbury.
SHFPACT has been the lead agency with many local community and health service partners in the delivery of the Safe Schools Coalition ACT program funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA). Local partners include well-known and respected organisations like AIDS Action Council, A Gender Agenda, Northside Community Service, Belconnen Community Service, headspace Canberra, and Youth Coalition ACT.
The program has enjoyed the strong support of ACT Government, and other community and professional groups. SHFPACT Executive Director Tim Bavinton said, “The Canberra community is generally quite progressive, and the program has enjoyed positive community support in its goals to address prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexuality, sex and gender identity in school communities. The Program has been delivered as a support to schools, with school leaders firmly in the driving seat about what kinds of support and resources they needed that reflected the particular needs of their school and community.”
Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) is a non-government, non-profit organisation working to improve reproductive and sexual health in the Canberra community.
We regret that it has been necessary to introduce a concessional fee rate to replace bulk-billed doctors appointments at the SHFPACT clinic.
Over the years, SHFPACT has tried to minimise the cost barriers to accessing the very high quality clinical services provided by our team of experienced doctors and nurses. For the last decade, the majority of our clinical services work has not been funded by the ACT Government. We receive a limited and fixed amount of funding from ACT Health to support free or low-cost clinical services for key priority groups, which is primarily provided through our outreach clinical programs in partnership with other health and community service providers, and by having free or low-cost consultations available at the SHFPACT clinic.
Making informed decisions about sex is vital for young people yet, in many countries, sex education is confusing, limited or even overlooked altogether.
What kind of sex education did you receive in the classroom? Was it an awkward slideshow containing more euphemisms than you could possibly comprehend? Or was it a series of lessons covering not only the relevant biology, but also sexuality, gender and reproductive health?
According to the UN, the latter is still quite rare, which means the majority of young people lack the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
In our recent podcast on the importance of sex education, we heard that young people who received good quality sex and relationship education were less likely to start having sex at a young age, and less likely to become teenage parents.
Andrew Barr made an impassioned defence of the Safe Schools program on Wednesday, saying he knows enough about being gay in school to know how important it is for gay and gender-diverse teens to be told they are normal.
"Let me make some clear and definitive statements. It is OK to be gay, it is OK to be lesbian, it is OK to be bisexual or intersex, there is nothing wrong with you," he said. "You are not abnormal, you do not deserve to be discriminated against."
Mr Barr, speaking during a debate on the Safe Schools program in the ACT Parliament, said 23 public schools in Canberra – about a quarter of schools – and one independent school had joined the program, aimed at reducing bullying of gay, intersex and gender diverse students.
His message to LGBTI kids was "your rights and your feelings matter to us".