Australia must develop national comprehensive sexuality education curriculum

Family Planning NSW

Australia must develop a national comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum and invest in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a new report from Family Planning NSW.

In responding to Australia’s performance against the Sustainable Development Goals, Family Planning NSW has today outlined eight overarching strategies and made 22 recommendations to the Australian Government to embed SRHR in its policy at home and in the Pacific.

“The 2021 report confirms that sexual and reproductive health is not only a fundamental human right, it is a vital strategy for a better and fairer future for all,” Family Planning NSW CEO Adj. Prof Ann Brassil said.

The report calls on the government to develop a national CSE curriculum that is well-resourced, consistently delivered and aligned with UNESCO’s technical guidance on sexuality education. CSE, an age-appropriate approach to sexuality and relationships education, is recognised as a crucial early intervention strategy to reduce unintended pregnancy, STIs and gender-based violence. It also fosters the development of respectful relationships and promotes the teaching of consent education to all young people.

 

This is the fourth Sustainable Development Goals report produced by Family Planning NSW, but marks the first time the organisation has included a strategy acknowledging the association between SRHR and climate change. The report says enhanced research and collaboration in this field could make the case for embedding SRHR programs in climate change grants, both domestically and within Australian aid to the Pacific.

“Promoting universal access to sexual and reproductive health services advances gender equality, creates healthier families and more resilient cities,” Adj. Prof Brassil said.

The report also calls on the Government to implement a national sexual and reproductive health strategy, and adopt a national approach to the collection of data on contraception, pregnancy and abortion care, in order to track our progress and identify areas of need.

“Leaving no one behind is central to the values of the Sustainable Development Goals, and in this final decade of implementation, this approach is more important than ever,” Adj. Prof Brassil said.

“Australia must do more to close the gap for vulnerable and marginalised communities at home, and rise to support our neighbours in the Pacific to embed sexual and reproductive health and rights into their national policy and practice.”

Family Planning Australia, the organisation’s international arm, has provided sexual and reproductive health training and support to a number of Pacific nations since 2008, including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Cook Islands.

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