Leavers is a time to celebrate your achievements and newfound freedom (for the next few months anyhow). Congratulations! Before you head off and enjoy yourself, take a few minutes to think about how you can stay safe at leavers and have a great time.
Consider what you are going to do at parties/holidays before the event
- When it comes to sex it’s important to take your time deciding: don’t feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to.
- If you do decide to have sex, talk about safe sex early on, before the heat of the moment. Hopefully your sexual partner/s will agree with you about the importance of being safe. If they have a negative attitude, think about whether they are someone you still want to have sex with.
- You have the right to say ‘yes’ to sexual activities you feel comfortable with, and ‘no’ to others you don’t, and you can change your mind or stop at any time.
Be prepared and plan ahead
- Discuss contraception and safe sex with a health professional in preparation for leavers, and as a precaution, pack some condoms. If you’re on the Pilll, don’t forget to take a packet with you!
- Consider having an STI test if you’ve had unprotected sex in the past (including oral sex). Many people with an STI don’t have any symptoms, so this is the only way to know for sure if you have one.
- Remember that emergency contraception is available over the counter at pharmacies if you do have unprotected sex, and that it is most effective at preventing pregnancy if taken as soon as possible afterwards. You may also want to consider getting tested for STIs.
- It’s illegal to take advantage of someone if you or they have been taking drugs or drinking, and both partners must always consent to sex for it to be legal (agree without being pressured, forced or under the influence).
Have a sense of responsibility
- Drinking and taking drugs at the same time puts you at high risk of engaging in unsafe behaviour. Look after yourself: if you are going to drink and take drugs, know your limits so you can make the same safe decisions you would if you were sober. Consider using the ‘buddy system’ to help everyone stay safe.
- You can minimise your risk of harm by drinking alcohol in moderation – alcohol in excess can often lead to unsafe sex, STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
- ‘Sexting’ can have serious consequences and lead to bullying, public humiliation and even sexual assault – in some cases it is even illegal. As a general rule, don’t send nude or semi-nude photos of yourself to others and/or forward any sent to you, and don’t post them on social media.
Quarry Health Centre in Northbridge offers clinical and counselling services especially for young people. From November 18th – December 2nd, Quarry is offering FREE drop-in clinics for people wanting to have a chat with a health professional before or after leavers. Confidential STI testing and treatment is also available, and young people can be assured their questions and concerns will be answered in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. Edit May 2016: Quarry Health Centre for under 25s has closed. Services for young people are now being offered at SHQ.
The Sexual Health Helpline is also open Monday – Friday for people wanting to chat confidentially with a nurse – phone 9227 6178.
Sexual health and contraception information can be found at shq.org.au
Information for school leavers and their parents can be found at leaverswa.com.au