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Young People's Health

Young people experience high levels of substance use disorders, risky sex with consequent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), blood-borne viruses (BBVs), unintentional injuries and interpersonal violence. Burnet has a strong track record of using innovative methods to understand the key issues affecting young people's health and implementing programs to reduce risk events.

Our main objectives are to:

  • conduct quality research to provide data on the epidemiology and consequences of risk behaviours among young people 
  • develop and evaluate novel health promotion methods, particularly using newer media, including smartphones and social networking sites.
  • understand how complex factors influence the emergence of health risks among young people and how to intervene to reduce associated harms.

We conduct epidemiological research, health promotion, outreach and education with young people. Our work aims to create a strong evidence base for tackling STIs in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region.

Together, here are some of the ways we've made a positive impact in improving young people’s and adolescent health:

  • conducted a series of surveys of over 16,000 young people since 2015. These have investigated sexual risk behaviours, how these have changed over time, and their relationship with other risk factors, including alcohol and other drug use, mental health, and use of new media 
  • completed a series of projects funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing, looking at how smartphones and social networking sites can be used to reduce the harmful impact of alcohol consumption among young people
  • collected data on young people testing positive for STIs as a part of the ACCESS Project, a national health surveillance network that started in 2008. 

young people aged between 15 and 29 years we have surveyed about sexual behaviours, alcohol and other drug use, pornography use, social media and mental health.


is the number of young people aged between 14 and 23 who participated in a Burnet-supported study to co-design a relevant, usable, and acceptable digital prototype to address the pornography literacy needs of vulnerable young people.


is the number of young Victorians who participated in interviews led by Burnet researchers to understand how COVID-19 impacted young people’s lives, health and behaviours. 


adolescents in Myanmar received improved access to respectful and non-judgemental sexual and reproductive healthcare as part of Burnet’s adolescent health research project, IMSA – Integrated Multi-Sectoral Approach to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.