85 years young: Family Planning survey shows sexual health clinics are more important than ever

After 85 years, Family Planning remains one of our most important organisations working to provide sexual health services to all. A recent survey conducted by the group has shown that its support of young generations and respect for people of all gender, background and orientation is the reason it is still widely appreciated as the go-to for all sexual health needs.

Read the full report here.

From providing the full range of contraception, to working to reduce stigma, Family Planning has aimed to offer a service where people can access what they need, without judgement or shame since 1936.

Each year, Family Planning provides over 150,000 clinical consultations. Now in their 85th year, a survey conducted on over 1,200 Kiwis over 16 years of age has shown that knowledgeable and respectful staff are one of the top reasons the clinics are still widely used across New Zealand.

Findings showed seven in 10 (71%) of clients reported visiting a GP during the past 12-months, but chose to go to Family Planning for sexual and reproductive health care. Among young clients aged 16-19, the top reasons they visited Family Planning were because services were free and because the staff are good at helping young people.

The wider report shows that for young people, access to sexual and reproductive health services, information and education is growing in importance. Many younger generations are becoming more highly educated surrounding sexual health, and are turning to experts such as Family Planning to provide that.

“Young people in particular need information, support and empathy, not judgement,” says Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond. “It’s about rights, inclusivity and people’s ability to have access to information and health services that are right for them.”

Some 21% of the young clients aged 16-19 surveyed said that other than Family Planning, they didn’t know where else they could get contraception, or they felt there was nowhere else to go. Other than Family Planning, more than one in six of our young clients didn’t visit any other health provider in the past 12 months.

“Young people are capable of choosing what’s best for their sexual and reproductive health. “We see this through the thousands of young people coming to our clinics each year,” Edmond says.

The top two reasons for visiting Family Planning among all clients were: staff treat me respectfully (89%); staff know about contraception and sexual health (84%). The third and fourth reasons were the same for young clients and all clients: I can get the contraception I want; and services are confidential; no one needs to know.

“Overall, the survey shows that we are as relevant today as we were 85 years ago. We’re still seen as the experts in sexual and reproductive health and a safe place to go,” said Edmond. “People want to choose the number and spacing of their children, and young people particularly value cost-effective, youth-friendly services.”