The (CERSH) Rural Sexual Health Conference 2015
Community Engagement

This Yarning Circle format session is focusing on community engagement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health and well-being in rural Australia. We are inviting the submission of abstracts (see example) that address one or more of the following elements:

  • Cultural integrity in practice at the interface between rural health systems, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and sexual health and wellbeing

  • Decolonising theoretical approaches to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement around sexual health

  • Cultural literacy in the sexual health workforce

  • Ethical and cultural considerations for sexual health research partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled agencies

Example Abstract


Peter Waples-Crowe1, Andrew Bamblett1, Elsie L’Huillier2

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation1, Family Planning Victoria2

Mind the Gap is a rural and regional community engagement project delivered in partnership by Family Planning Victoria (FPV) and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) from 2009 to 2012. The focus was on the prevention of HIV, Sexually transmissible Infections (STIs) and Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (GLBTIQ) young people and their social networks.

The Mind the Gap model has three arms, Sexual Health and Diversity Enterprise (SHADE), a community grants project; Q&A Emerging Young Leaders Program, an adaptive leadership program for GLBTIQ young people and the Mind the Gap social networking site to connect alumni from Q&A. These projects used community development and self-determination as the guiding principles to connect and remain engaged through the life of the project. These interconnected strategies were designed to address specific aspects of engagement and capacity building within rural Aboriginal and sexually diverse young people. 

Specific programs included “Deadly Sex Factor” Aboriginal talent show, Koori youth camps and a Guinness World record attempt for the most Chlamydia tests in one day.

The success of the Mind the Gap project relied on engaging Aboriginal communities, with the support of VACCHO acting as ‘cultural brokers’ between FPV staff and community leaders. The FPV and VACCHO partnership developed over the three years, culminating in the signing of memorandum of understanding and on-going collaborations. Partnership development and capacity building within the participating Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations was a key focus of the project.

This presentation will focus on the outcomes of the program evaluation and showcase how these partnerships and strategies promoted an Aboriginal community led response to sexual health and diversity in rural Victoria. 

Disclosure of interest
VACCHO and FPV and their staff have no conflicts of interest