Sex Talk: The Australia Edition 11th September

Each month there are swathes of news stories revealing the sexual health of individuals, as well as entire countries.

We keep an eye out on all of these to gather how the state of sexual health is progressing from an international standpoint, as well as a national point of view.

Sexual health is a constantly changing field that encompasses a huge variety of skills and disciplines to decipher. Mathematics, psychology, education, geography and sociology all play a role in how our sexual health as both individuals and communities develops. This is why it’s really important for us to widen our focus every now and again, in order to get a ‘bigger picture’ look on how particular countries are faring in terms of their approach to understanding and dealing with sexual health issues.

This month in Sex Talk we’ve asked our sole Antipodean contributor, Troy Petty, to take a look at how his very own Australia. He’s spent the last month poring over statistics, collecting some interesting facts and figures. In addition to providing us with the raw data, he’s also been kind enough to supply us with his own reflections on the matter, giving us a great chance to get a fresh perspective on how a country is dealing with sexual health from both a technical standpoint and a personal angle.

Rise in Syphilis in Western Australia due to complacent safe sex attitudes

There are some sexual health issues that are akin to long term infestations of invasive plants. Japanese knotweed is a plant that has, through human interaction and sharing, spread all across the world and damaged every ecosystem that it has touched. Bacteria act in much the same, so just in the way that the earth needs help with removing Japanese knotweed, it appears that Australia needs aid in battling the scourge that is syphilis. The STI has been growing at an alarming rate across West Australia especially in the Aboriginal communities.

Sexual Assault is a problem that is affecting the entire country

In the wake of a growing acknowledgement of wide-spread institutional sexual harassment in all corners of the world, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many smaller communities have been speaking out about how they have been effected by sexual assault. In Australia our universities have become the focus of attention after it’s been discovered that almost half of all students have been a witness to or been the victim of a sexual harassment or assault. Thankfully, young students, more than any other community, have the bravery to stand up and speak out – but should this really have to be the case?

Female genital mutilation is alive in Australia

Australian health experts, legal professionals and teachers have been discovered to be ill-informed when it comes to rising cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Australia. FGM is a procedure that can range from ‘nicking’ or ‘pricking’ the prepuce to the complete removal of clitoris, or even the surgical closing of the vaginal opening. This practice predates any biblical text and can therefore not be attributed to any one religion. This is a cultural problem that is endemic to certain immigrant populations, but ending this problem is something that the entire country must take responsibility for. Australia needs an integrated policy that supports health professional and those in positions of authority to intervene when they have the suspicion that FGM is about to take place, or already has.

“As a teenager I struggled with a few sexual health problems. My attitude, coupled with my promiscuity was enough to get me diagnosed with three separate STIs at the same time – that was at a tough point in my life during the 90s. I never received any valuable sex education lessons when I was a kid during the 80s, but I had assumed that post AIDs epidemic Australia had learnt their lessons and that the education system had caught up with the times and was providing young people with a rounded sexual education experience. This news has not filled me with the confidence that I looking for. “

Troy Petty

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