Bringing them in: Professional perspectives on the complexities of engaging young people from culturally diverse backgrounds with sexual health services across Greater Western Sydney

Stream: Navigating Sexual Health: Professional, youth and MSM perspectives
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm


Introduction: Young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are often underserved by sexual and reproductive health care in Australia. Research being undertaken in Western Sydney seeks to understand the experiences of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and their engagement with sexual and reproductive health services. Methods: The first phase of research comprised key informant interviews with a range of purposively selected experts in the field, including clinicians, policymakers, academics and advocates. Interviews explored the beliefs and experiences of professionals in relation to young people, sexual health and cultural diversity, with the aim of developing a comprehensive picture of professional views on the complexities of these issues and scope for innovative responses at the intersection of these. Findings: Informants described significant challenges for services in attempting to be inclusive of the diversity of service users given the range of ages, languages, religious orientations and cultural backgrounds. They grappled with the challenges of conceptualising culture and diversity in this context, and the risk of collapsing all young people from diverse backgrounds into a ‘homogenous group’, i.e. “culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) youth”, which runs contrary to promoting a genuine sense of inclusion and belonging. Conclusion: While experts in the field identified a gap between policy and practice in promoting belonging in this context, they nonetheless saw opportunities for continued improvement. The next phase of research will explore these issues from the perspective of young people themselves, providing critical information on how services might better achieve these ideals in practice.


Jessica Botfield (Presenter), UNSW Australia
Jessica Botfield works as a Senior Research Officer at Family Planning NSW, focussing on sexual and reproductive health programs in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to this she worked as a Research Associate with the Health, Rights and Development (HEARD@UNSW) team at the School of Social Sciences, UNSW Australia, with a focus on global health and development research. Jessica has strong interests in sexual and reproductive health, and global health and development, with experience of these in both Australia and low- and middle-income country contexts.

Christy Newman, Centre for Social Research in Health
Christy Newman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health. With a broad interest in the provision and uptake of medicine ‘at the margins’, Christy conducts collaborative, qualitative research examining the social complexities of engaging diverse populations, professionals and audiences with evolving health and care priorities, particularly in the prevention and treatment of HIV and sexual health. Her conceptual interests include expert and experiential perspectives on health and medicine, trust and engagement in health care and treatment, and the politics of representation in health and health care.

Anthony Zwi, UNSW Australia
Anthony Zwi is Professor of Global Health and Development at the School of Social Sciences, UNSW Australia. He heads the Health, Rights and Development group (HEARD@UNSW) and teaches and researches around global health and health systems, international development policy, and human rights. He has a strong commitment to enhancing the interface between research and policy and practice, and seeks to develop links between practitioners and academics.