The Gist with The Burnet

Preventing violence against women through the a reimagining of sex, relationship and porn education 


In Australia, the pervasive issues of violence against women and poor sexual health prompt a call for improved education, particularly for young people. Current sexual health education is deemed insufficient by young Australians, leading them to turn to the internet and pornography for information on sex, consent, and relationships. Despite acknowledging the artificial nature of pornography, young men may unknowingly absorb its influence. The easy accessibility of online pornography to young people is linked to adverse effects on mental health, increased sexual risk behaviours, and attitudes and beliefs that can lead to violence against women. 

Recognising the urgency of these concerns, The Burnet Institute secured funding to develop The Gist, a digital and in-person intervention aimed at enhancing sexual health education and mitigating the negative impacts of pornography on young people. The program seeks to bridge the gap between formal Relationship and Sexual Education and the online and media content that young individuals are exposed to, with the ultimate goal of modelling ethical sex and relationships.


Collaborating with a diverse group of experts and marginalized young people, we developed a scalable pilot for a digital and in-person sexual education program. Our goal was to enhance accessibility to resources for discussing sex, relationships, and pornography among young people and those invested in their sexual and mental health. 

The process included a comprehensive review of existing tools and training for young individuals, engagement with both young people and educators to identify knowledge gaps, and hosting creative workshops where young individuals contributed to developing their ideal solutions. Through participatory workshops we established a unique youth-focused branding and tone of voice, designed a curriculum and resources for educators, and created a youth-centric website functioning as a 'wikipedia of sex and relationships.' In addition we developed a series of conversational roundtable videos covering key topics to enhance the effectiveness of our educational initiative.


The Gist pilot program has reached a significant milestone with its recent completion, marking a crucial step towards addressing the pressing issues surrounding sexual education among young people. As the evaluation phase is currently underway, the team is assessing the program's effectiveness and impact. Meanwhile, the youth-facing website has been unveiled to the public after a successful soft launch. This live platform serves as a valuable resource, providing accessible and comprehensive information on sex, relationships, and pornography for young individuals. Once the thorough evaluation process concludes, the program will be iterated and prepared for a broader launch at scale, with the collective aim of making a positive and lasting impact on the sexual health and well-being of young people across a larger demographic.