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P03.15 Peer education in practice: an example of a youth-led sexual health program
  1. R Fuller,
  2. K Carter
  1. Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia

Abstract

Introduction It’s no secret that young people seek sexual health information from other young people, and peer education is an effective health promotion strategy to engage with young people about sexual health. The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA)’s ‘Youth Educating Peers’ (YEP) Project is a youth-led peer education program, which aims to give young people opportunities to connect with other young people, and take action in regards to sexual health and blood-borne virus (BBV) issues.

Methods After extensive research on peer-led sexual health education in the WA youth sector, YACWA established the YEP Crew, a group of volunteer peer educators. These young people aim to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs in WA youth by building young peoples’ capacity to negotiate safer sexual practices. The YEP Crew meet regularly to design and deliver sexual health interventions through online social media, activity based workshops, and outreach at various youth sector events.

Results The YEP Crew currently has 17 active peer educators. Since July 2014 to present, the YEP Crew have facilitated seven education workshops, attended three opportunistic testing events, and conducted outreach at four festival and community events. Online, YEP Crew have a following of over 620 people on Facebook with a peak post reach of over 1,500. Young people who participate in YEP Crew workshops report increases in their knowledge of sexual health and BBV issues as well as feeling more ‘confident’ and ‘prepared’.

Conclusion In an environment where STI rates in young people are rapidly increasing, peer education models are an effective strategy to provide relevant and engaging sexual health information focusing on protective behaviours. This model of engagement allows us to keep on top of regularly changing sexual health issues for young people, which can inform policy development and guide research priorities.

Disclosure of interest statement Nothing to declare.

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