Making Sense of Sex

March 4, 1992

Making Sense of Sex

The federal government withdrew funding for the NSW Family Planning Association's Making Sense of Sex hotline for young people on February 24. The week before, Prime Minister Paul Keating stopped further publication of the companion project, the Fact and Fantasy File, which presented information about sexuality, contraception and health in the form of a school diary.

The hotline and diary were part of the Making Sense of Sex Sexual Information for Young People Project, a year-long pilot project jointly organised by Family Planning and South Sydney Youth Services. Until funding was cut, the project was supported by the federal government's National Health Promotion Program.

The anonymous telephone information service, staffed by carefully trained young people with adult social workers sitting in, was based on similar projects in the US, UK and Australia.

In the UK, Healthwize, an AIDS information service running through 1990, found that 75% of calls were made by young people during lunchtime and after school. A 1990 report of the Central Sydney Health Services found that adolescents required a health service that is confidential, free and readily accessible.

Despite the furore now surrounding the project, the FPA, South Sydney Youth Service and the 47 young people staffing the phone lines are committed to its survival, and have launched a public fundraising campaign.

The hotline has restarted, and will be operated five days a week from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on (02) 310 3878. For petitions defending the Making Sense of Sex Project, and for duplicated copies of the Fact and Fantasy File diary, call Resistance in Sydney on (02) 690 1977.

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