What is WA Sexual Health Week?
WA Sexual Health Week provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of sexual health among the Western Australian community, with a focus on young people particularly those from Aboriginal backgrounds. The theme for WA Sexual Health Week always includes Safety, Pleasure and Respect. These three simple words underpin a holistic understanding of sexual health. For more information about this click here.
Why is it important?
Sexual health promotion has seen the most success when the community are involved and the projects include a compressive approach, which is an ongoing, sustained intervention. Providing communities with grants for sexual health promotion allows for increased outreach during WA Sexual Health Week and sustainability of existing projects. Funding empowers and enables communities to facilitate improved implementation and development of projects, events, promotion of services and engagement. Given the need for prevention, evidence-based practice states health promotion projects are most effective and sustainable when the target community is involved in the development and implementation of the project1. Therefore, WA Sexual Health Week was designed to combat barriers, target young people living in regional and remote areas, use a ‘community action’ approach and provide funding for sustainable projects with financial aid and resources.
Rural or remote communities often find it difficult to staff personal in all relevant health fields in the community, and sexual health is often not a priority. Other barriers including structural issues, such as a lack of resources and funding, which contribute to the challenges regional communities face in providing sexual health promotion. Regional communities cannot be generalised as each is comprised of varying characteristics and therefore health messages also need to be tailored. This is why WA Sexual Health Week targets regional agencies to ensure local knowledge is use for grant recipients to design their own program, specific to their communities’ needs.
What do we do as part of WA Sexual Health Week?
The WA AIDS Council coordinates a committee of professionals to implement the ‘small community grant program’. This program provides rural and remote agencies with up-to $1,000 to implement a small project during the month of February, as well as sustainability grants for returning agencies with up-to $500. It aims to engage with relevant organisations and agencies to develop capacity and improve HIV, STI and BBV services, including ease of access to safer sex equipment.
How is 2016 shaping up?
Since 2008, when the first WA Sexual Health Week was launched the event has grown from strength to strength. The next WA Sexual Health Week will be held from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 February 2016, with a number of Western Australian events being planned over the course of the week.
This year we have eight successful grant recipients across the state who will be conducting some wonderful events and activities. We will be showcasing each grant recipient across Sexual Health Week so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the details!