Health & Sexual Health

Young people will experience significant social, emotional, physiological and psychological changes as they develop. This can lead to considerable fluctuations in their health and wellbeing. Young people can also experience a range of barriers when accessing health services. For instance cost, discrimination, lack of transport, confidentiality, stigma and a general lack of awareness that services exist can all pose problems for young people seeking to access those health services.

Sexual health and development is one aspect of young people’s overall health development. Though most young people experience these changes without significant problems, some young people need targeted support during their transitions. Young people require access to information, skill building, support and services to help them manage their individual changes as they occur.

Youth workers play a vital role in providing access to health and medical services through health promotion, partnerships and referrals. Those who work with young people are well placed to recognise the needs of young people who experience systemic disadvantage in their access to quality health care. Therefore, even if a worker does not have specific health expertise it is important that workers are involved in assisting young people to access relevant health services.

Supporting a Young Person to Access Health Services

You can significantly assist young people in accessing healthcare by making them aware of the health services available to them, exploring their concerns, researching questions they may have, referring and encouraging them to access youth friendly health professionals, and advocating for them if necessary.

Make young people aware of their health rights, which include the right to:

  • Expert and professional healthcare;
  • Be treated with dignity and respect, and to be free from any form of harassment (physical, sexual or emotional);
  • Be provided with information about health issues, treatment options and availability of appropriate services;
  • Participate, as far as possible, in decisions about the kind of care and support that is provided;
  • Have family, friends or advocates provide support;
  • Have an interpreter, if needed; and
  • Have their privacy and confidentiality respected.

The following are more ideas to assist young people wanting to access healthcare services:

  • Assist young people to get their own Medicare card. You can get more information on registering with Medicare by calling 13 20 11 or visiting the website: www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/forms.jsp
  • Assist young people to get a Healthcare card from Centrelink if they are eligible. This can help them to access subsidised healthcare and medication. You can get more information by visiting the website: www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/payments/conc_cards_hcc.htm
  • Advocate for a young person to receive bulk billing, or assist them to self-advocate. The ACT has the lowest rate of bulk billing in the country. Young people may not know about bulk billing, or that they can get reimbursed by Medicare for some costs.
  • Develop a relationship with a GP who bulk bills and is youth friendly. Young people may have a relationship with the family GP, but may not be comfortable visiting them for a range of reasons. If the young person trusts you, they are more likely to trust someone you recommend.
  • Assist them to access youth specific health services such as The Junction Youth Health Service and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT.
  • Assist young people to access their local health care centre.
  • Contact The Junction or ACT Division of General Practitioners to get a list of youth friendly GP’s and health care professionals.
  • Aboriginal young people may want to access Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.
  • Some youth services have emergency relief money, you could negotiate to get costs covered or subsidised.
  • See the Key Government Services Section for more information on accessing ACT Dental Health Services.
  • See the Counselling Section for information on accessing mental health services through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).   
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