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Sex in Australia: How to stay safe

We’re not here to explain safe sex to you, we’re pretty sure you’ve got it. Use condoms and get tested regularly – easy. We just want to give you all the information you need to stay healthy while you’re here in Australia –  like how to seek testing, counselling and other sexual health services.

Here are the answers to some common questions about sexual health in Australia. If you have more questions we’ve put some links at the bottom of the page.

The law

Australia is a largely progressive country, and safe sex is openly encouraged. However the laws around age of consent, sex work, abortion, and other sex-related matters do differ in each state.

Homosexuality is legal across Australia, however other laws pertaining to LGBTI people can change from state to state.

Marriage equality – the ability for two people of the same sex to marry – is still not legal in Australia, but Medibank publicly supports the movement to make this happen.

Where can I buy condoms?

Condoms are very easy to buy – you’ll find them at supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, petrol stations, and online.

It’s also pretty easy to find free condoms, if you happen to be short on money. You can ask your doctor, sexual health clinics, Family Planning clinics, and your university campus. You can even order free condoms online from organisations like endinghiv.org.au.

How do I get the contraceptive pill?

If you’re taking the contraceptive pill before you come to Australia, the easiest thing to do is to bring enough with you to last your whole trip (and that goes for all medications).

But if you run out, you’ll need to get a prescription from a doctor, and then you can buy it from a pharmacy. The doctor might ask you a few questions about your health and lifestyle to decide which type of pill to give you, but otherwise it’s a straightforward process.

If you’ve never taken it before, speak to a doctor about the forms of contraception available. Once you’ve decided on the best option for you, the doctor can provide you with a script.

Where can I get a pregnancy test?

If you think you’re pregnant you can go to a doctor, family planning clinic, or sexual health clinic; or you can buy a home test from a pharmacy or supermarket.

If you do a home test, whatever the result, consider visiting a doctor or sexual health clinic just to be sure.

Can I get emergency contraception?

What used to be called the ‘morning after pill’, is now known as the emergency contraceptive pill. If you’ve had unprotected sex or the condom broke, you can take an emergency contraceptive pill, available from most chemists without a prescription. The pill must be taken within five days of having sex, but the sooner it’s taken, the more likely it is to work.

However, you shouldn’t rely on the emergency contraceptive pill as your primary form of contraception – it’s just for emergencies.

If you have questions, visit your doctor, sexual health clinic, or family planning centre.

Is it legal to have an abortion?

Abortion law is different in every state. If you wish to terminate a pregnancy, the best thing to do is go to a doctor, sexual health clinic, or family planning clinic, and ask about your options.

Where can I get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

If you’ve had unprotected sex, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. It’s a relatively easy process, and you can get tested by a doctor, at a sexual health clinic, or a family planning clinic.

Health workers, such as doctors and nurses are legally obliged to keep your information confidential. They will generally ask you before sharing it, unless they think your welfare is in danger.

If you do test positive for an STI, it’s your responsibility to tell any of your sexual partners who might be infected.

How can I speak to a counsellor about sexual matters?

If you’d like to speak to someone about anything sexual (pregnancy, abortion, rape, relationship problems, etc), ask your doctor or enquire about it at a sexual health clinic.

Sexual Health Australia offers counselling services and support in every state.

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