Improving access to primary sexual and reproductive health services for young people – A Service Coordination Guide

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Family Planning Victoria engaged Larter to assist in the development of a service coordination guide to support health and community services improve access for young people to appropriate and responsive sexual and reproductive health care.


Young people are acknowledged as a vulnerable population when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health[1],[2]. Many young people engage in risk behaviours that can negatively affect their reproductive, sexual and mental health, experience teenage pregnancy, experience high rates of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are subject to homophobia and transphobia. An Australian survey of students in years 10, 11 and 12 reiterates some of these concerns, finding that students’ knowledge of STIs was generally poor and that only 59% of sexually active students used a condom the last time they had sex[3].

Family Planning Victoria (FPV), as the leading non-profit state-wide provider of sexual and reproductive health care, is focused on primary and secondary prevention of young people’s reproductive and sexual health concerns. As part of their Integrated Health Promotion Plan 2013-17, FPV developed a service coordination guide to improve young people’s access to primary sexual and reproductive services.

The service coordination guide is relevant to all health and community services in Victoria, with mapping of services beginning in the Northern Melbourne area, covering six Local Government Areas (LGA’s) that fall within the boundaries of the metropolitan Northern Health Region. A project reference group was established with a diverse membership including people from: regional women’s health services, public health services, city councils, community health, family planning services, Primary Health Networks and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.

[1] The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011–2015

[2] The Third National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2014-2017

[3] Mitchell A, Patrick K, Heywood W, Blackman P, Pitts M. 2014. 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2013, (ARCSHS Monograph Series No. 97), Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.


Health service providers are an important source of information for young people as well as critical to supporting young peoples’ sexual and reproductive health needs. The project aimed to support service providers to better provide sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

The two key objectives:

  1. Improve coordination of service delivery by providing the information that health and community service providers need to strengthen partnerships and pathways to better meet young people’s needs
  2. Support health and community service providers to improve engagement with young people and have effective conversations with them about their sexual and reproductive health.

Larter drew on it’s experience in engaging young people, knowledge of sexual health issues and the Victorian health and community service sector, knowledge of Victoria’s service coordination framework, and high-level project management and social research methods to develop this service co-ordination guide.


Larter conducted the project in three phases:

  1. Map services and consult with service providers
    1. Initial service map of six Northern Melbourne Local Government Areas
    2. Consultations with providers of sexual and reproductive health services and those community services who work with youth
  1. Consultations with young people
    1. Four focus groups with young people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds at various locations in the Northern Melbourne area (for example, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people, young men, and general young people)
  1. Development of the guide, including a care/referral pathway
    1. A care/referral pathway will be developed and finalised in consultation with the project reference group
    2. Final service coordination guide.

Larter consulted with young people in the six LGAs identified. Young people’s needs and perspectives (as well as the views and perspectives we have collected from service providers) informed the service coordination guide. During consultation with young people we learned:

  • What young people think creates a positive interaction with a service provider
  • How young people would like service providers to raise and discuss sexual and reproductive health issues
  • Their awareness of the local services available to them.

To ensure the guide improves access to appropriate, accurate, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health care we included information on:

  • Key sexual and reproductive health issues experienced by young people
  • What young people want and need from service providers to address their sexual and reproductive health needs
  • The barriers for young people in accessing sexual and reproductive health services
  • How to better engage young people about their sexual and reproductive health and what makes a service more youth friendly
  • How to better engage young men in sexual health care in primary care settings.


Larter has been developing and delivering education to primary health care audiences since 2008. We design education and training to meet the needs of community health services, community sector organisations, and clinical and non-clinical staff in Australian general practices. Our education modules are practical and relevant to the day-to-day work of primary care settings. Larter has developed a workshop to support health providers to deliver youth friendly services through better management of young people in primary health care settings. View our education or feel free to contact us to discuss our youth friendly workshops or your individual learning needs so we can tailor education for you.