The 32nd International Education Association (online) conference was held of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd December 2021

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.

In this conference Aditi Sharma presented on the -International Students Sexual health network (ISSHN) – where to from here?

The International Students Sexual Health Network (ISSHN) was established in 2015, driven by a passionate advocate for international student sexual health from Deakin and supported by key organisations working in this space, including the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) and Burnet Institute.

In 2017 The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Heath (CEH) became chair of ISSHN and has led it since.  ISSHN provided a network to share information and research, discuss emerging issues and advocate for international students’ sexual health. ISSHN has driven important research and advocated for improved sexual and reproductive health outcomes, for example through submitting a policy paper to the Commonwealth Department of Health to revise the DEED governing international student’s health insurance and through investigating the sexual health related coverage of health insurance providers.

 In recent years during the COVID-19 outbreak the key issues identified were a reduction in access to healthcare, lack of support around material aid, and overt racism. To address these issues members from ISSHN shared information to advocate for the needs of international students. These included but not limited to the following:

  • Impact of COVID-19 on abortion access, by Children by Choice
  • Sexual Health Information Pathways Project for International Students (SHIPP) recommendations by Women’s Health in the North.
  • Catch-up care Campaign by CEH.

The presentation shared the above-mentioned findings, highlight the collaborations that are happening, and outline the future work that needs to be undertaken to improve international student’s sexual health.

Networks such as this require resources, passion and commitment, and it is time for CEH to share this privilege.