In the summers of 2020 & 2021, many international students couldn't return home due to COVID-19. The UNSW Health Promotion Unit stepped in to organise projects for students to work on during the summer break.

One successful project involved developing content for an online module focused on sexual health and healthy relationships specifically designed for international students.

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is now widely acknowledged as a significant concern for international students in university environments. International students come to Australia with varying levels of SRH education and adapting to a new environment can be challenging and presents possible risks to their health, wellbeing, and education attainment.

Working in partnership with the HPU, a dedicated group of students expressed keen interest in further advancing the development of this module, aiming to create a safe and supportive space for international students to seek guidance and understanding on a topic that may not be openly discussed in their cultural context.

Fifth year international medical student, Si Thu Zin, with the support of Jane Xu and Gladys Tam led this project.

“For international students, me included, there was a substantial lack of knowledge regarding topics like safe sex, and relationships. My parents didn’t talk about it, and there were no conversations about these matters at school. So, when I got to Australia, I realised these topics were openly discussed and shared, and I recognised that it’s a very important thing to talk about,” said Si Thu Zin.
UNSW Sydney

Left to right: Si Thu Zin, Jane Xu and Gladys Tam, 5th year international medical students. Image: provided

Recognising the importance of this student-led initiative, the NSW Health’s Play Safe Consortium endorsed the development of the modules. It established a working group to oversee the final stages of the project. Development of the modules was funded by NSW STI Programs Unit and the modules have been added to the International Student Health Hub, to be piloted across multiple sites.

A formal evaluation is being led by Associate Professor Limin Mao from the UNSW Centre of Social Research in Health, with the aim to collect overall feedback on the module performance, engagement, and effectiveness across multiple sites.

“The evaluation is not an afterthought; it is a proactive approach to identify the needs of our international students and convey accurate messaging with resources that truly resonate with them. This valuable resource, led by UNSW, is offered for free, and there are hopes to expand its reach within NSW and nationally in the future,” said A/Prof Limin Mao.


Si Thu Zin agrees: “We want to see this module launched across different educational providers across NSW, and hopefully becoming a part of the onboarding and orientation for international students when they arrive in Australia because it provides such vital information they need to know.” 

Complete any of the five modules that you are interested in and go in the draw for your chance to win one of five $100 vouchers.

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For more information, please contact the UNSW Health Promotion Unit