About sexuality education

Sexuality education means different things to different people, but there is one thing all the experts agree on: it’s not just about biology. Hence the preferred term: sexuality education.

Sexuality education for a year five, primary school student will look different to sexuality education for a year nine, secondary school student. And because it’s not just about biology - though that remains important - many students who have participated in sexuality education classes may not be aware they have.

This section includes information on why we need sexuality education, Victorian policy, information on the national framework, the whole-school approach to learning and references for teachers and principals.

Why we need sexuality education − National research supporting the need for sexuality education and question and answer support.

Whole-school learning in sexuality education − Information on the model of whole-school learning in sexuality education and the roles of teachers, parents, government and the community.

Sexuality education policy − An overview of Victorian sexuality education policy, the national framework principles, and policies and practices in the UK.

Sexuality education in Victorian schools

In Victoria, it is compulsory for government schools to provide sexuality education within the Health and Physical Education domain, including assessment and reporting against the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. The most effective sexuality education programs also take a whole-school learning approach.

Good school-based sexuality education is:

  • driven by the school leader
  • comprehensive
  • inclusive
  • supported by the latest research
  • ongoing and integrated into a student’s cross-curriculum learning
  • assessed and reported against student achievement in the Victorian Essential Learning Standards
  • part of a student’s whole-school learning experience.

Catching On to sexuality education

Cathing On Years 9 and 10

Under the Department’s Catching On sexuality education program, the Department offers:

The Catching On resources have been made possible through this Department and the Department of Human Services.

The goal of sexuality education

The goal of sexuality education in Victorian schools is to build on knowledge, skills, and behaviours, thus enabling young people to make responsible and safe choices.

Good sexuality education focuses on love, safer sex, abstinence, respect for others and oneself, diversity, personal rights and responsibilities, relationships and friendships, effective communication, decision-making and risk behaviours.

School-based sexuality education is one of the core learning and teaching responsibilities a school undertakes to equip its students for a healthy and fulfilling adult life.

Non-government schools

Catholic and independent schools are welcome to use the Department’s policies, training and resources. The majority of Catholic and independent schools have chosen to assess and report student achievement against the Victorian Essential Learning Standards.

References for teachers and principals

Below is a list of references that underpin sexuality education policy approaches in Victoria.



Further useful references

  • Dickson, R., Fullerton, D., Eastwood, A., Sheldon, T., Sharp, F et al. (1997) ‘Effective Health Care: Preventing and reducing the adverse effects of unintended teenage pregnancies’, National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination University of York.
  • DiIorio, Colleen; Resnicow, Ken et al (2006) ‘ Keepin' It R.E.A.L.!: Results of a Mother-Adolescent HIV Prevention Program’, Nursing Research, 55(1):43-51, University of North Carolin.
  • Forrest, S., Strange, V., Oakley, A., and the RIPPLE team (2002) ‘A comparison of student evaluations of a peer-delivered sex education programme and teacher-led programme’, Sex Education, 2(3): 195-214.
  • Hutchinson Katherine M. (July, 2002) ‘The Influence of Sexual Risk Communication Between Parents and Daughters on Sexual Risk Behaviors’ Family Relations, Volume 51 Issue 3 Page 238-247, US.
  • Kirby, D., Barth, R., Leland, N. and Fetro, J. (1991) ‘Reducing the risk: a new curriculum to prevent sexual risk-taking’, Family Planning Perspectives 23 pp.253-263.
  • Kirby, D., Short, L., Collins, J., Rugg, D., Kolbe, L., Howard M et al. (1994) ‘School-based programmes to decrease sexual risk behaviours: a review of effectiveness’, Public Health Report 109 pp.336-360.
  • McQueen, David V. & Jones, Catherine M., eds. (2007). Global Perspectives on Health Promotion Effectiveness. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Schaalma, R., Kok, G. and Peters, L. (1993) ‘Determinants of consistent condom use by adolescents: the impact of experience of sexual intercourse’, Health Education Research, Theory and Practice 8 pp.255-269.
  • Stephenson, J. M., Strange, V., Forrest, S., Oakley, A ., Copas, A., Allen, E., Babiker, A., Black, S., Ali, M., Monteiro, H., Johnson, A. M. and the RIPPLE study team. (2004) ‘Pupil-led sex education in England (RIPPLE study): cluster-randomised intervention trial’, The Lancet, 364 (9421): 338-346.
  • Wellings, K., Wadsworth, J., Johnson, A.M., Field, J., Whitaker, L.B. (1995) ‘Provision of sex education and early sexual experience: the relation examined’, British Medical Journal 311 pp. 417-420.
  • Wight, D., Abraham, C. and Scott, S. (1998) ‘Towards a psychosocial theoretical framework for sexual health promotion.’ Health Education Research, 13 pp.317-330.