Call for more youth sexual health clinics

Cathy O'Leary Medical Editor

WA needs more sexual health clinics for young people to address rising infections and long waiting lists for services, according to youth workers.

Youth Affairs Council of WA chief executive Craig Comrie said WA led the nation in the rate of sexually transmitted infections in young people, with as many as one in five people under 30 infected with chlamydia. He said WA had only one dedicated youth-specific sexual health clinic, the Quarry Health Centre in Northbridge, and it had a waiting list.

Mr Comrie said there were also other gaps in services, compounded by many young people being worried about confidentiality or being judged when they sought help from mainstream health services.

"As far as help for mental health and drug and alcohol problems, we have a number of great services but we know young people can experience waiting periods of four to six weeks to access support," he said.

"These are just two gaps experienced by young people and while they remain young, people become more and more disenchanted and eventually give up on trying to find services, and their health suffers."

He was commenting on research by WA Commissioner for Children and Young People Michelle Scott that will quiz teenagers about their experiences using health services.

Ms Scott said many young people, parents and health professionals were concerned about gaps in services and the way that some were delivered and co-ordinated.

"The transition from childhood to adulthood is a unique period where a number of physical and psychological changes occur and health risks emerge, yet there is no clear direction in WA about the way to deliver specialist health services for adolescents," she said.

"Young people tell me they want to take responsibility for their own health but find it difficult."

Ms Scott is working with the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and social research organisation Market Solutions to consult young people.