Talking about sexual health can be awkward at the best of times, but it can be especially difficult when you are in a new country or have cultural or language barriers that prevent you from asking questions or seeking help.
We understand that being away from family, friends or other people you trust to discuss these issues with can make it less likely that you will seek help, if needed. However, it is very important to talk about sexual health so you know how to keep yourself and others safe.
Be Safe, Stay Well
In 2018, the Department of Health WA produced a series of videos in consultation with international students from a range of countries. The Be Safe, Stay Well videos cover the topics about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), safe sex, health services and costs, and the legal aspects of sex including consent, sexual violence and personal safety.
We recommend you watch the videos to get a better understanding about sexual health topics and Western Australia’s health care system.
Safe sex and contraception
It is always recommended you use contraception when engaging in sexual activity, as they protect against the spread of STIs (condoms), and against unwanted pregnancy (other contraceptive methods).
Contraceptive medications and devices are cheap and easily available in Australia. Condoms are available from supermarkets, chemists and convenience stores. Contraceptive pills and other methods of medical contraception require prescriptions from a doctor or health professional, but these are generally easy to acquire. Emergency contraceptives are available from chemists without the need for a prescription, and must be taken within 72 hours for the most effective results.
You can learn more about safe sex and contraception here.
Most major campuses in WA have health and sexual support services available to students, many of which have the option of face-to-face and online/anonymous support. Peer support networks through institutions are also a great way to find information and ask questions, as students often identify better with their peers than with medical practitioners.
If you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation whereby you feel your health or safety is at risk, we urge you to speak up and seek help. Please look around your campus and on their website for their student support service information.
Off-site health clinics and doctors
If you do not feel comfortable speaking with a health representative on campus, you can always seek help from an outside source. Just by searching Google for your local health clinic or GP, you will find many options available to you. Similarly, the medical professionals at chemists around Australia are able to answer questions about sexual health.
LGBTQI support services
A survey from Pew Research Centre found that the average age for people to come out as lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual is 20 years old. This is an age when many of these individuals are still studying, and is therefore often a difficult time for the students.
Support systems for LGBTQI students vary between institutions. ReachOut.com has a comprehensive list of providers and resources available, for students looking to ask sex, sexuality, gender or trans questions. Their website also provides a list of culturally diverse LGBTQI support services and groups, divided into state-based and national options.
Disclaimer: the information and resources provided above are to be used as a general guide only, and should not replace professional health care advice.