Sexual Health, Lifestyles and Relationships Program for young people.

Safe sex is sexy. Sex is meant to feel good and be fun, but it can be risky if not treated with respect. When entering into sexual relations with someone, the first thing you should do is talk about it and make sure you seek consent. Always ask someone before you start touching them or engaging in intercourse.

This article talks about: safe sex, consent, decision making, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, emergency contraception, and where to go if you need advice or help.


Sex can mean different things to different people.

A better way to describe sex would be to say sexual activity, as sex can include a range of things.

Sex can include:

  • Penetration of the vulva/vagina or anus by another person using any part of the body or any object.
  • Putting a penis into a mouth.
  • Putting a mouth onto a vulva.
  • Any other sexual activity that may involve another person/people like kissing and mutual masturbation.

This info sheet is about how to do all of these sexual activities safely.


is not just about taking care of your physical self, but also your emotional self.

Safe sex means:

  • Only having sex with the consent of everyone involved.
  • Feeling good about your decision.
  • Preventing the transmission of sexually transmissible. infections (STIs)
  • Preventing unplanned pregnancy.


No matter what you include as sex if it involves another person or people, everyone involved needs to give consent.

  • Consent is when someone communicates yes to something. This is best achieved by either saying yes or signing yes.
  • Sometimes people may send signals that might mean yes — these are times when we need to stop and check-in. Asking questions like “Are you ok with this?” or “Do you want to stop?” or “Do you want to go further?” can help to clarify consent in a situation.
  • If a person does not respond – they are not giving consent and things need to stop.
  • If a person communicates no – they are not giving consent and things need to stop.
  • If a person is very drunk or under the influence of drugs — they are not able to give consent and things need to stop.


  • Needs to be given in every sexual encounter – every time. Even if it has been done before.
  • In every relationship — no matter how long you have been together or how long you plan to stay together.
  • May be taken back at any time — its ok to change your mind.
  • Is an important part of respecting the person/ people you are with and their sexual rights (and yours as well).


What is sexual consent:?

Tea consent: An interesting take on consent


Sex should be a positive, pleasurable experience.

Sometimes we can feel all sorts of pressures to have sex and while we may say yes and mean it, it's also important to feel good about that decision.

Things that help us to make good decisions include:

  • Talking with the person/people you are about to have sex with. What are they expecting? What are you expecting? What do you like? What do they like? Etc.
  • Being drunk and/ or under the influence of other drugs can impair our ability to make good decisions. Think about how you could make sure you’re not put in a situation where you will need to make a decision in this state, or what you can do to increase your chances of making a better one.
  • Be honest — with yourself and the person/people you are with. Everyone has a line and only you know where that line is for you.
  • Get the info you need — think about where you can go to get more information on safe sex or who you can talk to about it.


  • The Line Do you know where you draw the line?
  • SHFPACT Info about your sexual and reproductive health


STIs are transmitted from one person to another through body fluid exchange and skin to skin contact.

These being:

  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Blood

To prevent transmission of STIs a barrier needs to be used.

These include:

  • Condoms.
  • Dams (a very fine latex sheet that can be placed over the vulva or anal area during oral sex).  


Regular STI testing is important and can also help to decrease transmission and help maintain your health for the long term. STIs do not go away without treatment and can have serious health consequences, including infertility and serious illness. Testing can be done at sexual health clinics, family planning clinics, or your GP.



Pregnancy happens when a sperm and an egg meet and fertilisation occurs. Pregnancy can occur even with one act of sex, even if it’s your first time, during your period, and even if the male withdraws his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates (cums).

Contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. The methods of contraception available include:

  • Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs.) LARCS are methods of contraception that are highly effective, work for a long time, need very little action by you, and are quickly reversible when you stop using them. LARCS include the contraceptive implant (the rod) and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Hormonal methods such as the pill and the contraceptive injection.
  • Barrier methods-including the male or female condom (Condoms are the only contraceptive method that also protect you from STIs ).

To discuss contraception and which method might suit you see a doctor at SHFPACT or see your GP.


Emergency contraception can be used to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex (this means where semen has entered the vagina, usually when no other form of contraception was used or where a method of contraception failed, such as a condom breaking or slipping off). There are two different types of EC tablets available:

Levonorgestrel EC. This is the most commonly used EC. It needs to be taken within 3 days of sexual activity. The sooner you take it the better because its effectiveness decreases over time.

In the ACT you can get Levonorgestrel EC free from the Walk in Centres (in Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Belconnen); Canberra Sexual Health Centre (at The Canberra Hospital): and from the Junction Youth Health Service in civic. You can also get Levonorgestrel EC over the counter at most pharmacies for a cost of approximately $20 to $30 and from SHFPACT for a low cost.

Ellaone is the other EC available in tablet form, it is more effective than Levonorgestrel EC and is effective up to 5 days after the unprotected sex. Ella One is available from pharmacies for a cost of approximately $45. Call the pharmacy beforehand to make sure they have it.

The copper IUD can also be used as a very effective emergency contraception up to 5 days after the unprotected sex. For more information call SHFPACT on 02 62473077.




  • Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT
    For more information on STI transmission, testing, and contraception.
    1st Floor, 28 University Ave, Canberra City ACT
    Call 02 6247 3077

  • Canberra Sexual Health Centre
    For more information on STI transmission and testing
    Canberra Hospital, 5 Gilmore Cres, Garran ACT
    Call 5124 2184

  • The Junction Youth Health Service
    Free primary health care service for people aged 12 to 25 years old.
    30 Scotts Crossing, Canberra City ACT
    Call 02 6232 2423

  • AIDS Action Council of the ACT
    Building strong, connected and supportive communities that are free of new HIV transmissions, marginalisation, discrimination and stigma.
    Havelock House, 85 Northbourne Avenue, Turner ACT
    Call 02 6257 2855

  • ACT Walk-in Centres
    Tuggeranong: Anketell St & Pitman St, Greenway Call 13 22 81
    Belconnen: 56 Lathlain St, Belconnen • Call 13 22 81
    Gungahlin: Ernest Cavanagh Street, Gungahlin • Call 13 22 81

  • Lifeline
    24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    Call 13 11 14

  • Headspace ACT
    A national youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians.
    Call 02 6201 5343

  • A Gender Agenda
    A Gender Agenda works with intersex, transgender and gender diverse people, their friends, families and allies.
    Call 02 6162 1924

  • Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
    If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you can get help and support.
    Call 02 6247 2525

Use of this website implies that you understand and agree to the following: 

Terms of Use
Information is routinely produced by SHFPACT for the purpose of disseminating health information free of charge for the benefit of the public.  It is not a substitute for independent professional and/or medical advice.  Nothing contained in this website or the documents you can download is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional’s advice.  SHFPACT does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information and recommends that the recipient contact SHFPACT or their medical practitioner directly for further, more specific, information.

Reproducing SHFPACT Materials
All material on this website, unless indicated otherwise, is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without the prior consent of Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT. Please contact us if you would like to use our information in a professional capacity. In most cases, we will grant free permission for the use of information produced by SHFPACT for educational purposes if SHFPACT is acknowledged as the source of the information.

Copyrighted Images & Other Materials

This website uses images and web technologies obtained in good faith as being 'freeware', 'open source' and 'royalty free'. SHFPACT takes copyright infringement seriously and exercises caution & discretion in sourcing materials for this website. If you believe that your copyrighted material is being infringed on this website, please contact us and include the URL of the page containing the item(s) in question and we will endeavour to remove any such items in a reasonable timeframe, where necessary.

Links to third party websites
In the interests of young people’s access to information and services to support health and wellbeing, this website provides links to health information and health services offered by third party organisations. Wherever possible, this website links to ACT or Canberra region services. SHFPACT makes not any warranty regarding the currency of information on third party websites, and will advise third party publishers of factual errors that come to its attention. Information on many third party websites may be intended for a wide general public audience, or for the needs of specific audiences, in relation to sexual health. Not all material in third party websites may be age or developmentally appropriate for children or young people. Not all content on third party websites is intended for students or use in schools. SHFPACT does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information and recommends that the user contact the publisher of third party websites directly to advise incorrect information.


About SHLiRP

The Sexual Health, Lifestyle and Relationships Program (SHLiRP) is a collaboration between Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) and the Canberra Sexual Health Centre, located at the Canberra Hospital, that brings sexual health screening clinics, and sexual health/sexuality education to secondary colleges in the ACT.

The SHLiRP Program team visits up to five ACT Government secondary colleges per year to offer sexual health education and information and in-school clinic to offer screening for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-bourne viruses (BBVs). Each cohort of Year 11 & 12 students will get an opportunity to participate at least once during their time at college.

The Program works on a voluntary model, students are all encouraged to attend the health education session, and are then offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical consultation. Students aged 15 years are required to provide parental consent to participate in the consultation. Otherwise, participation and results are kept strictly confidential. Young people enjoy the same right to privacy about their use of health services as other community members.

SHLiRP's successful model has been operating with the support of ACT Government Health Directorate and Education & Training Directorate, ACT Government secondary college staff and students since 2004.

For more information about SHLiRP

Canberra Sexual Health Centre
Building 5 (North Wing), Canberra Hospital, Garran ACT
02 6244 2184
Website > Click here

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT
Level,1 28 University Avenue, Canberra ACT 2601
02 6247 3077
Website > Click here
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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