Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll (Big Day Out Study)

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise among young Victorians. These infections are spread by unprotected sexual contact.

This landmark study of young people’s risk behaviours started in 2005 at the Melbourne’s Big Day Out (an annual music festival). For more than a decade, Burnet’s researchers undertook the yearly survey at the festival. Since 2015, the Sex, Drugs, and Rock‘n’Roll surveys have been completed online.

More than 12,000 young people between 16 and 29 years of age have been surveyed about sexual risk behaviour, drug use and alcohol.

Questions have covered participant’s sexual histories, condom use, knowledge and perceptions of STIs, and STI testing histories. We ask about alcohol and other drug use, and other risks and behaviours such as diet and exercise, contact with police, and smoking. We have learnt a great deal about the types and prevalences of risk behaviours among young people from these surveys, and can monitor changes in these over time.

The Big Day Out festival also gave us an excellent opportunity to inform this population group about sexual health and behaviour that may place them at risk of sexually transmitted infections. Showbags containing safer sex and other harm reduction information were distributed to survey participants and other Big Day Out patrons.

The Big Day Out surveys have also been used as a platform for other studies. In 2006, the survey was used to recruit people to a trial of SMS and email messages as an intervention to reduce STI risk behaviours and increase STI testing.

In 2008, the survey was used as a baseline measure in a study to promote sexual health by SMS to young people. The Big Day Out surveys have also provided an opportunity to evaluate health promotion campaigns and policies, such as the Victorian Government’s “You Never Know Who You’ll Meet” campaign, and the new Australian alcohol guidelines.

To see results from previous Big Day Out studies click on the links on the right:

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Doctor Megan SC Lim

Deputy Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks; Preventive Health Research Fellow