The International Student Sexual Health Network (ISSHN) is nationwide network of over 55 professionals, established by the Multicultural Health & Support Service (MHSS) in 2015, to promote the sexual and reproductive health of international students studying in Australia.

It provides an opportunity for its members to share information on research, policy and practice, as well as collaborate on various projects that enhance our work in Victoria.

The network meets twice a year via teleconference and kicked off in 2021 on 28 March.

Presentations included:

How PrEPared Are You? – Budi Sudarto, Monash University

How PrEPared Are You? is a current research project investigating knowledge of and attitudes towards PrEP amongst newly arrived gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). Recently, there has been a steady increase in HIV infections amongst newly arrived GBMSM in Victoria. The study will investigate social, cultural and financial barriers of accessing PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy. The findings will be used to advocate for greater access to PrEP for people who may not have access to Medicare. The study is in the recruitment stage.

International Student Sexual Health – Where is the evidence? – Karina Reeves, Curtin University, Community of Practice for Action on HIV and Mobility (CoPHAM)

The presentation highlighted the current projects under CoPAHM in WA, including Nexus Research, Srkandi, and MiBBS. Key findings from the projects were shared.

Catch-up-Care Campaign – Bronwyn Ratcliffe, Center for Culture, Ethnicity and Health.

Earlier this year the Department of Health approached CEH to do some online messaging around Catch-up Care to address the decrease in the number of doctor visits during COVID-19 in general.

CEH calls on health care providers, especially those working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, to urge & encourage people to CATCH UP and KEEP UP on health checks they may have missed or put off since the beginning of the pandemic.

These presentations were followed by a lively Q&A that raised questions such as;

  • International students are part of a very broad community comprising of different cultures and sub-cultures. How do we go about reaching out to them?

The best way to reach out to these hard to reach community groups is through the multicultural groups and see if there were any individuals who could be community champions.

International student associations are another way to reach out to these community groups.

  • Could we do more for international students by using virtual education?

Virtual education has been working really well. We need to get the information into student portals, where they can have access to mental health and sexual health information. This type of online modules could also be integrated into student orientation programs.

Sexual Health Victoria (formerly Family Planning Victoria) has designed information for international students. For more information click HERE.

  • What are the speakers’ views on Peer education?

Peer education program(s) really need to get embedded into the system and be ongoing. Peer education does work. Students prefer to talk to other students and feel more comfortable with a peer.

One of the peer education projects run by students is the “YSHY- Your Sexual Health Yard”. For more information follow the link below.

Peer education is a fantastic model. A peer education project in WA “The HERS project” was about Sexual health education for migrant women aged 18 to 25 years.

For more information on ISSHN please contact Aditi Sharma on