Cutting valuable program makes no sense

AT a time when sexually transmitted infections are on the rise, it beggars belief that a sexual health program aimed at our young generation will be closed.

All funding for the only youth-led sexual education program – YEAH (Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS) – will be pulled and the program replaced with an online resource after the end of the current financial year.

The program’s closure comes at a time when national health authorities are warning sexually transmitted infections are on the rise, but the use of condoms is on the decline.

YEAH is a program using youth educators to deliver face-to-face sex education and sexual health information in schools and universities.

It is a $450,000-a-year program. Loose change for the federal government when it comes to such an important issue.

So it makes no sense to shut down the program.

Some say the closure is a result of an agenda pushed by conservatives who believe teaching students about sex and sexuality from an early age is dangerous.

Others believe it may be linked to gutting of the Safe Schools Coalition – a national program designed to make schools safer for LGBTI students – following a push from the Australian Christian Lobby and the Liberal party's right-wing, who claimed it was sexualising children and promoting the "homosexual agenda".

The approach from YEAH is more relevant to young people, with many feeling more comfortable talking to young people about sexual health issues.

Young people are going to have sex regardless, so you may as well equip them with the information they need to do it safely and in healthy relationships.

As parents, the best thing we can do to help our young people avoid sexually transmitted infections or an unwanted pregnancy is to given them access to information.

But what is really dangerous is not to teach young people at all, or worse, encourage them to go online for answers.

Yes, the internet is readily accessible for young people. But not everything on the internet is correct. There is so much misleading information – Dr Google for the want of a better phrase – that traversing through all this information is dangerous.

Cutting funds to such valuable programs as YEAH makes no sense at all.