Our role in advocacy
Sexual Health Victoria has a long and distinguished history as an advocate to the federal and state government and health and human service stakeholders for the prioritisation of reproductive and sexual health. Our advocacy work has influenced the development of sound government policy and best practice in healthcare and education. We continue to use our influence to champion:
- access for individuals to comprehensive and consistent relationships and sexuality education
- access for individuals to affordable contraception and abortion services
- the inclusion of reproductive and sexual health in pre-service education
- support for individuals in our sexually diverse community.
Partner with us
We advocate for the development of sound government policy and best practice in sexual and reproductive health care and education in the Victorian community. To advance this work, we are open to a range of project and research partnerships, including the following:
- networking: exchanging information for mutual benefit
- coordinating: exchanging information and altering activities for a common purpose
- cooperating: exchanging information, altering activities and sharing resources
- collaborating: exchanging information, altering activities, sharing resources and enhancing the capacity of the other partner for mutual benefit and a common purpose. For more information about these types of partnerships, please visit The Partnership Analysis Tool.
Advocacy submissions & presentations
Topic: Health Services
- 2022 -2023 senate inquiry on universal access to reproductive healthcare. SHV regard universal access to reproductive healthcare as fundamental to bodily autonomy; enabling all people to make reproductive choices and decisions without geographical, social, cultural, legal, religious, economic or political barriers. Prioritisation of universal access to reproductive healthcare, including contraception and abortion, is particularly pertinent during the current economic climate, and with communities continuing to experience the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.
Universal access requires government commitment to address the intersecting structural barriers to safe, inclusive reproductive healthcare that are underpinned by pervasive gender inequity. Some of the key systemic barriers relate to geographic location; country of origin, citizenship, length of residency or visa; gender, sex characteristics or sexual identity; ability/disability; occupation; and socioeconomic status. View Sexual Health Victoria’s submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs in response to the inquiry on universal access to reproductive healthcare
Topic: Sex and the law
- 2023 senate inquiry on current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia. Sexual Health Victoria recommends unified affirmative consent laws across each state and territory to increase community and professional understandings of these laws and the critical ethics underpinning them. A change to unified affirmative consent laws has the capacity to promote social change around how Australians view consent and how it should be sought. Harmonisation of affirmative consent laws across Australia will also enable greater clarity and consistency for consent education within the Australian Curriculum, and how it is applied within schools across the country. Sexual Health Victoria promote a student centred, ethics-based approach to consent education. Ideally young people are approaching sexual experiences with the understanding that they have the right to positive experiences if, and when, they choose. This extends to online sexual experiences. An ethics-based approach considers much more than what is reflected in the law, including the array of personal values relating to relationships and intimacy. View Sexual Health Victoria’s submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in response to inquiry on current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia.
- 2021 joint submission with the Family Planning Alliance Australia (FPAA) to the Australian curriculum review
Sexual Health Victoria, in partnership with the FPPA, strongly advocates for the inclusion of age-appropriate and evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), also referred to as relationships and sexuality education (RSE), within the revised Australian Curriculum. We believe that all students from Foundation to Year 12 (F-12) should have access to age- and developmentally-appropriate CSE that promotes lifelong wellbeing and positive, healthy and respectful relationships. Sexual Health Victoria facilitates young people’s access to CSE through direct delivery of student education by specialised educators, and professional development, resources and support for primary and secondary school teachers. Our professional development programs enable teachers to confidently provide evidence-based CSE to young people. View the FPAA’s submission to the Australian curriculum review.
- 2021 release of the Australian Government’s ‘The Good Society’ consent education website. Sexual Health Victoria supports all steps towards promoting young people’s understanding of, and ability to experience healthy and respectful relationships. Any resource which promotes consent education in schools is welcomed. However, it is our experience that young people have direct and explicit questions about sex and sexual consent. Speaking indirectly or using euphemisms (e.g., milkshakes) may unwittingly reinforce the belief that sex is shameful or difficult to talk about. We also believe not talking directly can create barriers to learning for some students, requiring an additional layer of interpretation that may compromise their understanding of key messages. Read Sexual Health Victoria’s position statement on the release of The Good Society website.
- Sexual Health Victoria's Submission to the Senate Education and Employment References Committee Download & Read Submission. The inquiry into current levels of access and attainment for students with disability in the school system, and the impact on students and families associated with inadequate levels of support can be found at the following link: www.aph.gov.au
- Submission to Senate Inquiry into the Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia Read response. The Inquiry looked at: The types and prevalence of sterilisation practices used and the reasons for them being sought; The different legal, regulatory and policy frameworks in place and the adequacy of these; Australia’s compliance with its international obligations; and The impacts of sterilisation on people with disabilities. www.aph.gov.au.
- Submission to Senate Community Affairs References Committee Response to Questions for Stage 2 of the inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings. Read Submission In this inquiry, the committee examines the issue of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability from a whole of issue perspective. The committee examines the causes of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability, what happens when individuals or their carers try to report abuse either to the service delivery entity or through more formal mechanisms, and what was the response to the reporting. The committee examines primary ways that violence, abuse and neglect can be eliminated and how to improve rates of reporting and responses to reporting via systemic changes. The committee also examines secondary mechanisms that can support systemic change, such as education programs, workforce improvements and advocacy programs. www.aph.gov.au
Topic: Health Services
- Sexual Health Victoria's response to the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011-2015 Read response. The Plan aims to develop an effective prevention system, along with a strong and responsive healthcare system, to help reduce the growing burden of chronic disease and injury we are now facing, and support people to enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing. The following link outlines the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011-2015:health.vic.gov.au/getfile
- Sexual Health Victoria's response to the Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012-2022: Metropolitan Health Plan Read response. The framework’s purpose is to lay out a clear, coordinated agenda for the future of the entire Victorian health system. It provides principles to guide decision making and prioritisation of innovation, investment and actions. Refer to the link for more details: health.vic.gov.au
- Sexual Health Victoria's Consultation response to the Victorian Women’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2010-2014 Read Response. The Victorian Women’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2010-2014 consultation paper provides evidence to back the State Government’s decision to name chronic illness and injury, violence against women, mental health, and sexual and reproductive health key health priorities for Victorian women.
- Submission to Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce Consultation
Read Submission. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce will consider how services can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and improve health outcomes for patients. SHV’s submission specifically looks at: Provision of medication termination of pregnancy; IUD insertion in primary care settings; and enhancing registered nurse access to specific MBS item numbers.
- SH&FPA’s submission to the National Men’s Health Policy Read Submission. The Policy provides a framework for improving the health of all males and achieving equal health outcomes for population groups of males at risk of poor health. It provides practical suggestions for action men can take to improve their health and is designed to guide policy directions into the new decade. The Policy focuses on areas where we know we can make a difference in improving the health of Australian males, and on measures that target those with the poorest health.health.vic.gov.au.
- Submission to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) on the inclusion of Family Planning Clinics within the scope of Public Hospital Services eligible for Commonwealth funding under the National Health Reform Agreement Read Submission. IHPA released its draft Pricing Framework in January 2012 for public comment and submissions. IHPA has described the Pricing Framework as a key strategic document for the Authority, which will guide its determinations on the pricing of hospital services, as well as on the scope of public hospital services eligible for Commonwealth Government activity-based funding under the National Health Reform Agreement. consultation.ihpa.gov.au.
Topic: Sex and the Law
- Sexual Health Victoria's submission to the Law Reform Committee regarding 'Sexting'. (June 14, 2012) Read response. An inquiry into the creating, sharing, sending or posting of sexually explicit messages or images via the internet, mobile phones or other electronic devices by people, especially young people, (known as 'sexting'); including:
- the incidence, prevalence and nature of sexting in Victoria;
- the extent and effectiveness of existing awareness and education about the social and legal effect and ramifications of sexting; the appropriateness and adequacy of existing laws, especially criminal offences and the application of the sex offenders register, that may apply to the practice of sexting.parliament.vic.gov.au.
- Sexual Health Victoria’s response to ACARA’s Shape of the Australian Curriculum – Health and Physical Education: Foundation to Year 10 Read Response. The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education provides broad direction on the purpose, structure and organisation of the Health and Physical Education curriculum. It is intended to guide the writing of the Australian Health and Physical Education Curriculum from the Foundation year to Year 10.www.acara.edu.au.
ABS review of the sex standard/ potential new gender standard: A submission by Sexual Health Victoria in collaboration with Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, TransGender Victoria, Y Gender and the Zoe Belle Gender Centre Read Submission.
The review focuses on three areas;
- The capacity and need to distinguish the concept of sex from the concept of gender for different types of statistical collections and output, and whether there are grounds to develop a new gender standard to complement the revised sex standard;
- Within a statistical environment, the capacity and need to collect information on gender/sex for those that do not identify themselves as either male or female, and who do not fall within the definition of the 'Intersex or Indeterminate' category of the current Sex Standard (i.e. genetic condition resulting in both male or female characteristics).
- The practicality of what can be collected and output in different types of statistical collections. www.abs.vic.gov.au
Topic: Violence against women
- Written submission to provide comment on the Action Plan Consultation Framework for Addressing Violence Against Women and their Children Read Submission. In late January 2012 the Victorian Government released an Action Plan Consultation Framework for addressing violence against women and their children. The Action Plan detailed both current efforts to address violence against women and their children and proposed future directions and areas for action. The Plan stressed the need to address all forms of violence against women from an understanding of the causes of violence - gender inequality, gender stereotypes and broader cultures of violence. The Plan set out actions under three areas of:
- Preventing violence against women and their children before it occurs;
- Intervening earlier so that women and their children do not continue to experience violence; and
- Effectively responding to violence against women and their children after it occurs.
- Submission to The Royal Commission into Family Violence Read Submission. On 22 February 2015, the Governor of Victoria appointed a Chair and two Deputy Commissioners to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Commission will inquire into and provide practical recommendations on how Victoria’s response to family violence can be improved. The Commission is due to provide its report and recommendations to the Governor of Victoria by Tuesday 29 March 2016. www.rcfv.com.au.
- Submission to Victorian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into the Law of Abortion Read Submission
- SHV also contributed papers to the parliamentary debate, including Contraception in Victoria: Myth and reality: www.parliament.tas.gov.au and Mandatory Counselling: Read Paper. On 20 August 2007 the state government announced it would ask the Victorian Law Reform Commission for legislative advice on the decriminalisation of terminations of pregnancy. The terms of reference required the Commission to devise legislative options to decriminalise abortion with regard to current clinical practice, current legal principles, community standards, laws in other Australian jurisdictions and the government’s desire to modernise and clarify the law. www.lawreform.vic.gov.au
- Submission to Legislative Council Government Administration Committee “A” Inquiry Tasmanian Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 Read Submission. In April 2013, Tasmania’s House of Assembly passed a Bill that removed abortion from the Criminal Code and allowed abortion up to 16 weeks if the woman provided her consent, and after 16 weeks if two doctors said it was medically, psychologically and socio-economically justified. The Bill then moved to the Legislative Council which halted debate and referred the issue to a government Administrative Committee for further examination. This Committee called for submissions. www.parliament.tas.gov.au