The Government’s Defunding Australia’s Only Youth-Led Sexual Health Organisation

It's pretty alarming that the sexual safety of Australia's youth is not a priority for the Turnbull government.

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Australia’s only youth-led national sexual health organisation YEAH (or Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS) has announced that the Federal Government has withdrawn the group’s funding. Without this funding, YEAH will be unable to continue beyond June 30 2016.

For the last 11 years, YEAH has been an important organisation in a few ways. Firstly, because it is actually run by young people, they have a better idea of how to educate their peers beyond patronising videos and practicing putting a condom  on a banana.

Secondly, sexually transmitted diseases are actually on the rise in Australia; last year NSW’s Kirby Institute found that while HIV infections were on the decrease, there was sharp increase in cases of gonorrhoea and syphilis. YEAH have found that over 75 percent of all STIs are occurring among young people aged 15-29.

But YEAH does more than teach young people about preventing disease. It also seeks to educate people about sex more generally, including developing healthy emotional relationships, empowering people with knowledge and providing them with medical and even legal resources. It has become abundantly clear that in Australia, many young people do not have healthy attitudes towards sex.

YEAH CEO, Alischa Ross said in a press release: “Despite our efforts to highlight the Commonwealth and community investment that has enabled YEAH to build the largest and most established online and face to face reach around sexual health education with young people, the Health Minister’s Office and Departmental staff have stated they will not continue funding to sustain any of YEAH’s services post June 2016.”

“For 11 years YEAH has consistently delivered highly effective youth led sexual health promotion for young Australians. The decision by the Federal Government to defund YEAH is nothing less than outrageous.”

There is currently a public petition doing the the rounds to ‘Save YEAH’, with the fear being that without this resource, young people could suffer from the misinformation or perceived shame associated with STIs. It’s pretty alarming that the sexual safety of Australia’s youth is not a priority for the Turnbull government.