Profile of children and young people in WA 2020

Commissioner for Children and Young People's profile of children and young people in WA. Includes: Population - gender, cultural background, geographical distribution, Aboriginal children and young people, disability, birth, projected population growth; Family, childcare and education - family composition, childcare, education, early development; Vulnerability - housing and homelessness, child poverty, children and young people in the child protection system, children and young people in the youth justice system.

Adolescent romantic relationships (2012)


An evidence summary by Headspace outlining why adolescent relationships are important and whether they should be encouraged or avoided.

Adolescent romantic relationships - why are they important? And should they be encouraged or avoided? - PDF document

Profile of children and young people in WA 2020 (Version 1.2)

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Headspace ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

<p><img data-fileentryid="661525" src="/documents/10184/388537/headspace.jpg/60eee7aa-d999-e651-06d5-c33f1fbd891c?t=1585527890742&amp;imagePreview=1" style="height: 131px; width: 150px;" /></p> Headspace centres act as a one-stop-shop for young people who need help with mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drugs, work and study support. There are over 100 centres in Australia. eheadspace is the national online and phone support service, staffed by experienced youth mental health professionals. qheadspace offers online support for LGBTQIA+ young people.

headspace.jpg (Version 1.0)


Sexuality education matters

Divided into 8 areas of study plus one assessment, this university program for pre-service teachers includes: gender, power and sexuality; diversity; discourses in sexuality education; frameworks, policies and approaches; plumbing and sexual health; sexuality and relationships; dealing with sexuality as a whole school issue.

Usage Notes

Includes podcasts from Dr Debbie Ollis, Senior Lecturer from Deakin University's School of Education.

When is the right age to be in a sexual relationship?

In Western Australia, the legal age for consent to sexual activity is 16 years and older. This does not mean that young people have to start sexual relationships at this age and it is important to remember that it is possible to be in a romantic relationship without engaging in sexual activities.

Family values, culture, religion and personal beliefs can all play a part in deciding what the right age is to have a sexual relationship.
Everyone is different and it is important for young people to have their own personal list of considerations when they are working out if they are ready to begin having sex.

Some considerations for young people:

  • Am I over 16? Is my partner over 16?

  • Do I want to have sex? Have I said so?

  • Am I sure the other person wants to have sex with me? Have I asked them?

  • Does this feel right?

  • Have I pressured my partner to ‘give in’? Has my partner pressured me?

  • Do I feel pressured by anything or anyone else?

  • Am I doing it to gain acceptance from my friends?

  • Is anyone coercing me? Is anyone forcing me?

  • Am I doing it just to keep my partner?

  • Am I doing it because everyone else is?

  • Do we both want it for ourselves, not just to please the other person?

  • Do we care for each other and agree that we want to take this next step?

  • Do I respect my partner? Does my partner respect me?

  • Do I understand how to get consent? Do I know how to communicate my consent?

  • Do I feel comfortable with the person I want to have sex with?

  • Do I feel I could stop at any point, and that would be OK?

  • Do I have any anxieties or fears?

  • How will feel about this decision tomorrow?

  • Do I know how to prevent a pregnancy?

  • Do I know how to get contraception and which one is best for me? Have I discussed contraception with my partner?

  • What would I do if my partner and I got pregnant?

  • Do I know to protect myself and my partner from getting an STI? Do I have condoms and know how to use them?

  • Do I know how to get an STI test? 

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Why do girls get periods?

Each month, the uterus prepares for a possible pregnancy. The lining of the uterus thickens into a cushion of blood vessels, glands and liquid. During pregnancy, this lining will nourish the fertilised egg for the term of the pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilised, then the lining (mostly blood and some fluid) passes out through the vagina. This bleeding is called a period, or menstruation.

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Question box

 The anonymous question box is an extremely useful educational tool used by sexual health educators to provide students with a confidential way to ask questions. 

This method provides students with an opportunity to:

  • ask questions that may otherwise be too embarrassing or unsafe for them to ask openly in a classroom

  • clarify information they may not have fully understood in class

  • feel reassured that other students have similar questions

  • raise topics that are important and relevant to them that may have been missed in planned lessons.

It can help teachers to:

  • model to their class that they are in a safe and non-judgmental space

  • assess knowledge and address any gaps in future planning

  • address any misconceptions

  • revise content - little and often to ensure students have a better understanding of topics

  • cover a wide range of content in a short space of time

  • address the emergent curriculum - topics that are relevant and important to students at that particular time. 


Setting up the question box

  1. Create a question box.

A question box can be made out of an old box with a lid (e.g. a shoe box) or it can be a hat, a pillow case, a bag, etc. The item must be something that is not see through (e.g. a fish bowl) to ensure confidentiality.

  1. Explain to students how the question box activity works.

laugh Say:

"Everyone will receive a blank piece of paper.

Everyone will have a few minutes to write down a relationship/sexual health related question.

If you do not have a question, draw a happy face or write a funny joke so that everyone has something written on their piece of paper.

Please remember the group agreement when writing questions.

Everyone will place their paper in the question box as I bring it around (or as they leave the classroom).

The questions will be answered during the next class."

  1. Collect the questions.

Read the questions before the following session to allow time to prepare answers. This can be particularly useful if you are concerned about any 'curly' questions.

Possible adaptations:


Students can write statements as well as questions (e.g. 'I am worried about getting my period at school.' or 'I really enjoyed learning about... I would like to know more about...').

Requests to talk to a staff member individually

Students may wish to have a question answered in private and request to talk to a teacher or other staff member (e.g. school community health nurse) individually or with a small group of friends. They can indicate this on their piece of paper by writing their names and who they wish to speak to so that they teacher can make arrangements.


Tips for answering questions

Accept all questions as genuine.

  • For sexuality education to be effective and relevant for students, it is vital that teachers  genuinely accept students' questions.

  • There is no such thing as a silly question - questions that may appear to be asked to 'get a laugh', may be genuine questions and should be treated as such. 

Be honest

  • Answer all questions honestly.

  • If you are not sure of the answer to a question, be honest and tell the class you are unsure and will follow this up prior to the next class. Alternatively, you can direct students to other sources of information. This is a great way to model help-seeking behaviours and remind students of the importance of using reliable and credible resources. 

  • Ensure that all answers are age appropriate.

Provide simple and concise answers

  • Answer questions accurately and use plain language. It is important to not overload students with too much information. Students can always ask for further information with additional questions in the question box.

Be non-judgmental

  • Provide a simple and correct answer free of judgement.

  • Be aware of what messages students may be receiving from your body language.

Group questions into common themes

  • Questions can be sighted by the teacher well in advance of the lesson, giving the opportunity to group similar questions together and prepare answers to questions.

  • It can be helpful to let students know that you have a number of questions around a similar topic so that they are reassured that they are not the only ones seeking the same information. 

  •  Multiple questions on a similar topic may also indicate that further lessons are required on the topic.

Invite volunteers to offer answers to questions

  • Prior to answering a question, students could be asked for possible answers. This technique must be used carefully and the teacher needs to know the class well to ensure that the student answering the question is in a safe space to answer (i.e. that they are not at risk of judgement from other students for knowing (or not knowing) the correct answer).

  • ONLY volunteers should be asked to given answers.

Questions that are unclear

  • If questions are based on incorrect facts, use this as an opportunity to address misconceptions or misunderstandings.

  • If a question is unclear, read the question to the class and offer the chance for the person to anonymously clarify what the were asking the next time the class are writing questions for the question box (e.g. Read the question aloud and say, 'I am not quite sure what this question is about. Perhaps the person who wrote it can give me a little more detail when we write our next round of anonymous questions at the end of this session).

Aim to be unshockable

  • Some students may attempt to write questions intended to provoke a response by the teacher or students. Remaining 'unshockable' (particularly during the first question box session) usually prevents this from happening again and often young people genuinely want to know the answer to these questions.

If students ask a question during a lesson

  • Make sure you understand exactly what the student is asking. For example, a kindergarten student might ask,"Where do I come from?".  Before going into a detailed explanation about how babies are made, ask the student to tell you what they already know. From this information you can then gauge an age appropriate answer. The student might simply be asking if they are from Perth or Sydney.

  • Re-phrase the question to check that you are answering the question the student has asked.

  • Before answering a student's question, consider whether it is appropriate to respond in front of the whole class or whether a private discussion with the student or a suggestion for them to speak to their parents may be a better option.


Types of questions students ask

There are 5 main categories of questions students typically ask in sexual health education:

  1. Information questions

  2. "Am I normal?" questions

  3. Permission seeking questions

  4. Values-based questions

  5. Questions intended to shock or requesting personal information

Understanding and learning to recognise the subtle differences between question types will make it easier to give an appropriate answer. 

For examples of each of these types of questions and ways to respond, read the Background teacher note: Types of questions.

Additionally, the Background teacher note: Response types outlines some ways in which students may respond to questions raised in class and why they might respond in these ways.    


Frequently asked questions

The Student FAQ section offers support for teachers to answer specific questions that students may raise. They offer different levels of detail in plain language that teachers can use as a script to answer questions. If you have a 'curly' student questions you would like added to this section, please submit your request on the Ask a question page. 

The Background teacher notes offer professional reading to help upskill teachers background knowledge to deliver lessons and answer students questions. 

Get the Facts, a Western Australian Department of Health website, also provides information for young people and offers an 'ask a question' function where young people can email in specific questions that are answered individually by a health professional within a week.

This teaching note appears in the following learning activities:

DivaCup - Free menstrual cup education resources ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

<p><img src="/documents/10184/0/divacup.jpg/10fd4009-a803-53bb-87e3-8b16a1eb9576?t=1581898552499" style="width: 150px; height: 150px;" /></p> Diva International Inc. provides free resources about the DivaCup to health professionals and educators. Menstrual cups are a sustainable menstrual care option. <p>&nbsp;</p> To access a free education pack, contact the Australian distributor - Barton Brands <p>&nbsp;</p> The educator pack includes: 1 x Model 0 DivaCup (for under 18s); 1 x Model 1 DivaCup (for under 30s and those who have not had a child); 1 x Model 2 DivaCup (for over 30s and/or those who have had a child); 1 x educational brochure.

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Young Deadly Free ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

<p><img data-fileentryid="650311" src="/documents/10184/0/YDF-Logo.png/ef27cb7f-9384-4a5c-f363-86085bac24aa?t=1580340525056&amp;imagePreview=1" style="height: 244px; width: 200px;" /></p> An Australian website with resources designed for Aboriginal communities in syphilis outbreak areas (and the health professionals and educators working in these areas). Includes information on STIs and BBVs. Animations, videos, factsheets, posters and TV and radio ads. Sign up to their monthly newsletter for news on new resources and emerging topics.

Counselling Online ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

Communicate with a professional counsellor about an alcohol or drug related concern using text-interaction. This service is free for anyone seeking help with their own drug use or the drug use of a family member, relative or friend. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across Australia.

All good? ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

Information on STIs and BBVs, places to get testing and treatment - written and audio translations in over 20 languages.

Let's Yarn! ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

<i>Let’s Yarn!</i> has been developed to make it easier for educators, parents and health professionals to talk to young Aboriginal people about ways of developing strong, safe and healthy relationships. The website brings together useful resources developed by WA Health and other government and non-government agencies around Australia.

Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

A one-stop-shop for online safety, including classroom resources, outreach programs, school policies and parent resources.

Cyber Savvy ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

A web resource developed in Western Australia to help young people prevent and address problems associated with online behaviour, particularly image-sharing.

Bullying. No Way! ( (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

Managed by the Safe and Supportive School Communities (SSSC) Working Group. Members work together to create learning environments where every student and school community member is safe, supported, respected and valued.

ABC Splash (!/resources/-/science/all/topic) (Opens New Window)(Opens New Window)

Learning resources mapped to Australian Curriculum. Includes: videos about the human body, viruses, bacteria.