Disability & Sexuality

SHINE SA believes that people living with a disability have the right to:

  • explore and express their gender and sexuality
  • have relationships based on consent, respect and safety
  • learn lessons from life’s experience, with support where required
  • control decisions which affect their sexual health and relationships

The key to building sexual health in people living with a disability is to communicate openly about rights and responsibilities in relation to private body parts, sexual feelings and behaviours, healthy relationships, respect for boundaries, diversity and the law.

For further reading about aspects of sexual health and disability see Sexual health and people living with a disability.

SHINE SA strives to improve access to sexual health and healthy relationships for people living with a disability by building capacity in professionals, support workers and next-of-kin.

A range of SHiINE SA’s services relevant for people with a disability and their allies are listed below.

Callers seeking support around specific sexuality and disability case issues can expect to be listened to and to receive:

  • support in exploring the matter
  • information and suggestions on basic interventions
  • referral to private, government or non-government services
  • suggestions about specific resources, books and training modules to assist the caller to do their work

SHINE SA aims to provide access to clinical sexual health services for anyone with a disability. Services offered include:

  • contraception services, pregnancy testing, counselling and referral
  • information on safer sex and sexuality
  • STI testing, management and referral
  • sexual health issues

SHINE SA clinics are not suitable for ongoing individual education sessions.

When making appointments, please provide all information about any special needs.

Only some clinics have adjustable examination beds. SHINE SA has a ‘no lifting’ policy for its staff, so if the client needs assistance transferring to an examination bed, they will need to be accompanied by people who can do this.

A list of hospitals and health centres that offer adjustable beds and lifting equipment is available from the SA Cervix Screening Program:

Tel: 13 15 56
Email: cervixscreening@health.sa.gov.au

The Centre for Disability Health also provides a Women’s Health Clinic with Pap tests and breast examinations. Tel: 8372 1442

SHine SA offers a limited therapeutic counselling service, provided by professional sexual health counsellors. This service is available to people living with a disability. Counselling is provided for concerns such as:

  • sexual issues relating to a disability
  • differences in levels of sexual desire
  • effects of sexual assault or child sexual abuse
  • sexual and/or gender identity
  • vaginismus, orgasm issues, erectile or ejaculation difficulties
  • pregnancy, termination of pregnancy / post-termination
  • living with sexually transmitted infections

Note: This service should not be used as a substitute for basic sexual education or assessment of sexual knowledge in people with intellectual disability or other cognitive impairment.

SHine SA’s Library & Resource Centre has a specialist collection of books, videos, kits and multi-sensory teaching resources which can be used to communicate effectively about a range of sexual and relationship matters.

SHine SA’s FRESH Course: Disability Focus prepares workers and students to provide sexual and reproductive health and relationships information to their clients. There is the option to gain recognition in one or two nationally recognised sexual health competencies.

Rules about sex: getting them right is a training module with a CD-based resource which aims to support workers to tailor basic verbal and visual messages about sexual rights and responsibilities to their clients’ needs.

ReFRESH Forums are offered, covering a range of sexual health and relationships topics, and Tailored Training may also be negotiated.

Teachers: A workshop specifically for teachers is offered several times each year. This explores how to apply the curriculum framework to special learning needs and introduces teachers to disability-focused resources.

Clinical services for people living with a disability:

  • Services are free for all clients 30 years and under. (A fee for contraception or medications may apply)
  • Clinical consultations are bulk-billed for clients aged over 30, who hold a Health Care Card. (A fee for contraception or medications may apply)

Counselling services for people living with a disability:

  • Services are free for all clients 30 years and under.
  • For clients over 30 years who hold a Health Care Card, there is a $20 fee per session. If they do NOT hold a Health Care Card the fee is $50 per session.

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