Pilot training for professional working with international students

Mr Budi Sudarto1, Dr Shanton Chang2, Dr Georgia Babatsikos3, Ms Alison Coelho4

1Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council, South Yarra, Australia, 2School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia, 3School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University,, Burwood, Australia, 4Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, Richmond, Australia

Research shows that professionals working with international students often have limited understanding of the sexual and reproductive health issues facing international students (Babatsikos & Lamaro 2012; Poljski, Quiazon & Tran 2014). Both perceived and real cultural and language barriers can prevent professionals from talking about sexual health to the students. The lack of resources available to assist professionals can create another challenge, as they are unaware of culturally safe strategies that can be employed to talk about the topic to the students. Many professionals have indicated the need for a training program on sexuality and health issues so they can provide better support and service to the students.

This workshop will be run as a pilot training program for professionals working with international students. The themes will involve sexual and reproductive health topics and its relevance to international students’ well-being. Following the workshop, effective and appropriate techniques and ways of engagement with the cohort of professionals based at universities will be identified.

This workshop will further inform longer training provided to professionals working with international students. This longer training will be conducted as a part of the project on sexual and reproductive health of international students currently run by the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC), International Students Sexual Health Network (ISSHN), Deakin University, RMIT University, and the University of Melbourne, and supported by the Rainbow International Student Network (RIS’N) and ISANA.


Biography:

Budi Sudarto is the Vice President of the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC Inc.). He is a former international student who is also an active advocate for LGBTIQ inclusive practice in the international education sector. Budi is the founder of Ananda Training & Consultancy offering LGBTIQ inclusive training.

Assoc Professor Shanton Chang is an ISANA life member and an academic at The University of Melbourne. His latest project in international students’ online behaviour has been published and presented internationally. He was also previously Assistant Dean (International) at the Melbourne School of Engineering.

Alison Coelho is the Acting Co-Executive Manager of the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH).She is the founding member and Chair of the new Australian Multicultural BBV/STI Alliance (AMBA) and the Co-chair of AFAO’s African Reference Group. She is also a coordinator of the International Student Sexual Health Network.

Improving student sexual wellbeing – A workshop on having conversations around sexual health

Mr Priyadi Prihaswan1, Ms Semra Tastan2

1HARP Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Darlinghurst, Australia
2Student Hub, UNSW Sydney, Kensington, Australia

The majority of students are young adults and as such are at a key developmental stage in relation to personal identity and relationships. Issues related to sexual wellbeing will have a significant negative effect on the physical and emotional wellbeing of a proportion of students. If not resolved promptly and sensitively, these issues can affect both their success as learners and their participation in the broader campus life.

Specific issues which can negatively affect student wellbeing and success include:

  • unwanted pregnancy;
  • sexually transmissible infections (STIs), including HIV;
  • sexual assault;
  • forming and navigating relationships; and
  • exploration of sexuality and identity, including same-sex attraction.

Sexual wellbeing can be a complex topic to address in a campus context, particularly given the high proportion of people transitioning into young adulthood and independence, the diversity of life experience, cultural background and sexual orientation that exists within the student population, and the varying role-relationships which exist between staff and students.

This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to explore strategies to engage with students around sexual health. At the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Understand sexual health issues affecting students.
  • Refer students to appropriate sexual health information.
  • Identify personal and organisational capacity to respond to sexual health needs of students.
  • Apply communication processes to engage students in conversations around sexual health.

Biography:

Priyadi Prihaswan has been working at the HIV/AIDS and Related Programs Unit, SESLHD as a health promotion officer for over 7 years. In his current role he is involved in a number of HIV, sexual health and viral hepatitis health promotion programs reaching diverse populations.

Semra Tastan joined Student Development International in March 2017, having previously worked in student participation and engagement at UNSW Sydney and Macquarie University. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the University of Sydney and has implemented a number of sexual health promotion activities for students and staff at UNSW Sydney. She is passionate about supporting the participation and success of international students.

International student sexual health network: Advocating for the sexual health and wellbeing of international students

Dr Georgia Babatsikos1, Ms Alison Coelho2

1Lecturer, School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC; 2Centre For Culture, Ethnicity And Health, Richmond, Australia

The sexual health and wellbeing of international students in Australia has been identified as a high priority problem by a number of Australian researchers. Research shows that international students arrive in Australia with lower levels of reproductive and sexual health information than their domestic counterparts, and once they get here, there are a lack of preventative programs targeting students and a lack of access to reproductive health services.

The International Students Sexual Health Network was founded at the beginning of 2015 to bring together professionals around Australia to address the urgent need to conduct more research focused on the sexual health needs of international students in Australia, to develop health promotion programs and health services for international students, and to advocate at the policy level for improvements which will benefit international students in terms of equity and access to health services.

This session will discuss the history of the network, the activities of the network, and the recent evaluation of the network.


Biography:

Alison Coelho is the Acting Co-Executive Manager of the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH).She is the founding member and Chair of the new Australian Multicultural BBV/STI Alliance (AMBA) and the Co-chair of AFAO’s African Reference Group. She is also a coordinator of the International Student Sexual Health Network.

Sexual and reproductive health of international students

Ms Alison Coelho1, Dr Shanton Chang2, Dr Georgia Babatsikos3, Mr Budi Sudarto4

1Centre For Culture, Ethnicity And Health, Richmond, Australia, 2School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia, 3School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia, 4Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council, South Yarra, Australia

As numbers of international students across Australia continue to rise, the issues concerning their sexual and reproductive health are becoming ever more so pronounced. Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies are arguably among the major concerns faced by this demographic. Health problems, related to STIs and unplanned pregnancies are exacerbated by the lack of knowledge to navigate the Australian health system, late diagnoses and a range of other social and emotional challenges that many international students face. This includes difficulties in getting appropriate support, weak social networks, fear of communicating some of their health-related issues to friends and family etc. This points to the fact that sexual and reproductive health needs to be discussed holistically and include students’ mental health and broader social context.

More recently, the university and community sectors as well as some private health insurance providers finally started to discuss the urgency of a united approach, which would increase international students’ awareness of issues that concern their sexual and reproductive health and make the work of service providers more accountable. The work is far from being completed.

The panel will provide a space for discussion about the major challenges observed by the community health and university sectors in regards to sexual and reproductive health of international students. Presenters will talk about some already existing good practice models in the community, and identify the major concerns that will need to be addressed in the future.

 


Biographies of panelists:

Alison Coelho is the Acting Co-Executive Manager of the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH).She is the founding member and Chair of the new Australian Multicultural BBV/STI Alliance (AMBA) and the Co-chair of AFAO’s African Reference Group. She is also a coordinator of the International Student Sexual Health Network.

Assoc Professor Shanton Chang is an ISANA life member and an academic at The University of Melbourne. His latest project in international students’ online behaviour has been published and presented internationally. He was also previously Assistant Dean (International) at the Melbourne School of Engineering.

Budi Sudarto is the Vice President of the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC Inc.). He is a former international student who is also an active advocate for LGBTIQ inclusive practice in the international education sector. Budi is the founder of Ananda Training & Consultancy offering LGBTIQ inclusive training.

The use of peer education model to tackle sexual health issues among international students in Australia

Ms Alison Coelho1, Ms Dolly Hoang1, Dr Masha Mikola1

1Centre For Culture, Ethnicity And Health, Richmond, Australia

In recent years, there has been an alarming concern regarding sexual health problems including high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), blood-borne viruses (BBVs) and unplanned pregnancies among international students in Australia. International students are at high risk of being exposed to sexual health risks due to a variety of reasons including limited prior knowledge around sexual and reproductive health and sexual negotiation, and increased risk-taking behaviour. Difficulty in accessing sexual health information and navigating through the health systems also leads to adverse sexual health outcomes.

To tackle this issue, the Multicultural Health and Support Service has developed a peer education program aiming to promote the sexual health and wellbeing of international students and empower them with skills and knowledge to seek information where and when they need it.

This paper discusses the benefits and challenges associated with the peer education model in the international student population. The outcomes of the project showed that international students have, for instance, been more comfortable when seeking information on sexual health from their peers rather than from health professionals. Peer educators have also been able to reach out to international student population that is normally out of reach to health professionals. Some challenges of the model have been linked to recruitment and the training format of student peer educators. The paper argues that the peer education model can be applied to international student setting successfully, but only if it is carefully planned, evaluated and co-designed in close collaboration with its users.


Biography:

Alison Coelho is the Acting Co-Executive Manager of the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH), Stream Leader Multicultural Health Improvement and Manger of the Multicultural Health and Support Services (MHSS). MHSS is a state-wide program that aims to prevent HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and viral Hepatitis amongst high prevalence refugee and migrant communities across Victoria. She has a background in Sociology and Community Development.  Alison is a sitting member of the Victorian Ministerial Blood Borne Viruses Advisory Committee, a member of the Victorian Hepatitis B Alliance (VHBA) and former Board member of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO). She is the founding member and Chair of the new Australian Multicultural BBV/STI Alliance (AMBA) and the Co-chair of AFAO’s African Reference Group.

Intersex, transgender and gender diversity – a guide

Ms Moira Turnbull1

1ANU Counselling Centre, Acton, Australia

It is well documented that the mental health, wellbeing and physical health of transgender and gender diverse people is significantly worse than that of the general population. Notably, research indicates that these outcomes are not inherent to being transgender or gender diverse. They are instead related to stigma, discrimination, social exclusion, rejection by family and friends, as well as difficulty accessing appropriate supports and medical treatments.

Similarly for intersex people – who are mostly born into health bodies – many of their physical and mental health problems are caused by the effects of ‘normalising’ interventions. These include infant and childhood surgeries, other ‘normalising’ treatments, lack of transparency from health care providers and lack of counselling support.

Research also identifies that the intersex, transgender and gender diverse community is highly resilient and actively engaged in improving the wellbeing of its members.

In line with the Australian National University (ANU) values of being an inclusive, open and respectful institution that reflects the diversity of our nation, the ANU Counselling Centre developed a basic guide for ANU on intersex, transgender and gender diversity (ITGD). The guide is informed by the lived experiences of ITGD students and will be used to increase awareness and support for them across the ANU community. It recognises the resilience and determination of ITGD students and their community.

Students participated via an online survey which asked two main questions related to their needs and/or experiences at university:

  1. What do you most want others to know about intersex, transgender and gender diversity?
  2. What do you most want others to do/provide for intersex, transgender and gender diverse students?

Participants were also asked about services and supports they would recommend as sources of referral.

Student responses were organised in the guide around three affirmative practices⁶ of Awareness, Respect and Support.


Biography:

Moira has extensive experience working in clinical and management roles in government and non-government services. Her work is supported by a social justice framework.

ANZSSA

The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.

ISANA

ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.