The Multicultural Sexual Health Network (MSHN) was launched in April 2013 with the first forum, An increased intake, a better response: addressing the health needs of greater numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, attracting more than 80 professionals.
The network was developed in response to a clear need for a multisectoral approach to address the sexual health and wellbeing of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. MSHN brings together stakeholders from sectors such as education, employment, resettlement, housing, community groups, research and health to discuss sexual health issues in people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and develop strategies to address these.
Since the launch of MSHN, there have been three MSHN forums addressing a variety of issues related to sexual health and blood borne viruses: The other side of the rainbow: same sex attraction within culturally and linguistically diverse communities; Hand in Hand: partnering with spiritual and community leaders in preventing HIV transmission in migrant and refugee communities and; After AIDS 2014: Stepping up the pace in preventing HIV transmission in migrant and refugee communities.
Workshops and group discussions from these forums have resulted in outcomes such as a tip sheet for spiritual leaders to address HIV in their communities, and specific recommendations for government and the sector to improve partnerships, resources and services relating to sexual health and blood borne viruses for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. This year will see the first regional MSHN forum to be held in Ballarat in May, with the following forum to be held in Melbourne in June.