Groups call for more condoms, education

          CONTRACEPTION must be readily available in order to combat Tasmania's high teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates, community groups say.

La Trobe University yesterday released the results of its fifth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, which surveyed 2000 students in years 10, 11 and 12.

A key finding of the research was that 41 per cent of teens had not used a condom the last time they had had sex.

Eighty-six per cent of sexually active students used condoms ``if available''.

Tasmania generally reveals consistent rates for sexually transmitted infections and ranks second behind the Northern Territory for teen pregnancy. 

Rainbow Communities vice-chairman Don Macdonald said sexually active teens needed to be encouraged to carry condoms at all times.

``For that age group, condoms should be more available, should be in public places and should be more easily obtained,'' he said.

The statistics confirm Northern Tasmanian teen pregnancy research released by 3p Consulting last year, which found many young Tasmanians did not understand how to appropriately use contraception.

Twenty per cent of survey participants in the Teenage Pregnancy Research Report believed the contraceptive pill was effective even if not used for three or four days.

Director of 3p Consulting Kym Goodes said the consistencies between state and national figures showed a response in this area was  a priority.

``We need to understand that this is a whole-of-community responsibility and therefore requires a consistent approach from government, community organisations and families,'' she said. 

``What it does show is the relevance of sex education in schools is not hitting the mark and both national and state curriculum targeting this area needs reviewing.''

When asked about the government's plans for sex education, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said: ``Parents have an important role to play in determining what is age-appropriate sex education for their child.

``We are committed to working with parents and school communities on this issue.''

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