Sydney Morning Herald December 3, 2009
A privately run sex education program operating in NSW public high schools questions the effectiveness of condoms for preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Real Choices Australia operates the program, Choices Decisions Outcomes, mainly in government schools across Australia. One of its directors and spokeswoman, Debbie Garratt, has links to the Catholic Church and has worked with anti-abortion groups. The program is used at Ulladulla High School. Teams are trying to promote it in the Newcastle, Kempsey, Macksville, Port Macquarie and Taree regions. On the Choices Decisions Outcomes’ website, students are warned that condoms are not 100 per cent effective in stopping sexually transmitted infections. It highlights that children who engage in sexual activity are ‘flirting with danger’.The website goes on to say there is ‘no scientific evidence that condoms prevent the transmission of most sexually transmitted diseases’.
The NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the program compromised the State Government’s public health strategy, which says the use of condoms during casual sexual encounters ‘significantly’ reduced STI transmissions. ‘The program is using subterfuge to infiltrate the classroom and indoctrinate young people with a minority viewpoint, putting their sexual health at risk,’ Dr Kaye said. Ms Garratt said the program, which catered for the first four years of secondary schooling, encouraged adolescents to make healthy lifestyle choices regarding their sexuality as well as health and relationship issues. Asked whether the website was designed to dissuade students from using condoms, she said some readers may have inferred the wrong meaning. ‘The message is that condoms are not 100 per cent safe,’ she said. ‘We don’t promote abstinence as the preferred option.’