Aboriginal sexual health
Sexual health practices for Aboriginal people need to be customised to match their culture. Condoman and the Aboriginal condom brand Snake are successful examples of such tailored approaches.
Transgender Aboriginal people are among the most marginalised groups in Australia.
- Average age of Indigenous mothers in 2008, for non-Indigenous mothers: 30.1 years. 
- Average age of an Aboriginal first-time mother. Same figure for all mothers: 28.2. 
- Times the rate of chlamydia is higher among Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people. 
- Times the rate of gonorrhea is higher among Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people. 
- Percentage of sexually transmitted infections among Aboriginal people that were found in remote and very remote communities. 
- Percentage of Indigenous mothers who smoked while pregnant. 14% of non-Indigenous mothers do too. 
- Percentage of Aboriginal mothers having a caesarean. Same figure for non-Indigenous mothers: 31%. 
- Percentage of HIV positive Aboriginal people who are female. Same figure for non-Aboriginal population: 10% . This is because there is more heterosexual transmission in Aboriginal communities.
Barriers and challenges to Aboriginal sexual health
Sexual health is very important for Aboriginal people as well. But approaches to promote sexual health in communities need to be different for many reasons.
- Language: Accessing sexual health services and information can be difficult in remote Aboriginal communities where English is a third or fourth language. In some communities, such as Maningrida, 400 km east of Darwin in North East Arnhem Land, there are 13 language groups .
- Education: Many Aboriginal people don’t know the right questions to ask.
- Fly-ins: Doctors and nurses visit communities for a couple of months only, and staff changes. Aboriginal people find themselves continually repeat their medical stories , which can be embarrassing.
- Remoteness: 80% of sexually transmitted infections among Aboriginal people are found in remote and very remote communities  due to a lack of services and education.
- Shame: For many Aboriginal people it is not easy to approach doctors or nurses due to the stigma attached to even going to a sexual health clinic.
- Close relationships: In small communities it is quite possible that is was your aunty behind the counter of a sexual health clinic so you couldn’t be sure confidentiality was observed.
The Condoman campaign promotes the use of condoms in a fun way, targeted to Aboriginal youth. Snake condoms follows that lead and designed a campaign by Aboriginal youth for Aboriginal youth.
Condoman is an Aboriginal male character who wears the colours of the Aboriginal flag to spread the message of safe sex and male responsibility for condom use.
He was originally conceived and developed in 1987 by a group of Aboriginal Health Workers in Townsville. They noticed that Aboriginal people did not get the message of the mainstream campaign.
Although Condoman was specifically meant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities his popularity over the years crossed over to the wider Australian population; and eventually to other counties in the South Pacific region. During the late 1980s and early 1990s he reached cult status and became a national icon for safe sex awareness for all Australians .
The Condoman character was part of a broader prevention campaign that targeted younger Aboriginal audiences. In an effort to overcome the cultural stigma against condom use, the Condoman proudly clutches a box of condoms and proclaims there is no reason to be ashamed. The image correlates masculinity and responsible sexual behaviour by challenging the appeal of promiscuity and suggests that safe sex is not a reason to feel embarrassed or disgraced.
Critics of the Condoman campaign say that it “dumbs down” sexual education and that instead Aboriginal people should be taught about germ theory in their own language . “Teaching germ theory and basic health literacy in the language of the people works, and works very well,” says Richard Trudge, chief of the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services. “It gives Aboriginal people real information about STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and, at the same time, teaches them about many other diseases and illnesses that can affect their lives.”
To build upon the huge following of the comic book, and have an Indigenous superhero deliver sexual health messages in an interactive media format--featuring Indigenous voices and soundtrack--is a powerful and effective way to deliver these health messages.—Helen Travers, Director of HITnet which created the videos 
In 2009 Condoman was relaunched in comic book format with a new and modern design. In 2010 five video clips were made based on the comic book of Condoman.
Snake—An Aboriginal condom brand
On December 1st, 2008, an unusual website was launched. It promotes ‘Snake’ condoms in the colours of the Aboriginal flag: red, yellow and black.
“Snake Condoms is Australia’s first and only Indigenous-friendly, socially marketed condom brand.”
With teenage pregnancies five times higher amongst Aboriginal women and sexually transmitted diseases more prevalent in Aboriginal communities, Snake condoms hit a nerve.
The brand targets Aboriginal people with humorous, witty slogans like A trouser snake is the deadliest! (‘Deadly’ meaning ‘great’, ‘wonderful’, ‘excellent’) or Cover its head and it won’t bite you!.
The company’s website provides useful information on contraception, pregnancy and ‘sex stuff’ and reminds young Aboriginal people that ‘it’s okay to say no’.
Check out their website at www.snakecondoms.org.au.
Sistagirls: transgender Aboriginal people
Usually called Sistagirls, transgender Aboriginal people are among the most marginalised in Australia. While they identify with their female side, communities often still see the boys who they witnessed growing up.
There are about 50 Sistagirls on the Tiwi Islands  living as “outcasts” among the 2,500 inhabitants of the islands. Similar communities exist elsewhere in Australia, for example on Palm Island. A well-known sistagirl is Foxxy Empire, the alter-ego of Tiwi Islander Jason De Santis.
Sistagirls tell stories where their father wanted to shoot them, and of suicides among them with the dead being denied the traditional death rites .
Behind [the female part] are the little boys that they grew up [from] and the community that looks on them as boys, not as women.—Bindi Cole, Aboriginal photographer 
In 2010 film-makers Andy Canny and Donna McCrum shot Eye documenting the sistagirls on Tiwi Island.
Gay & lesbian Aboriginal people
Some gay Aboriginal artists include Destiny Deacon, Karla Dickens, Jenny Fraser, Clint Lingard, Arone Meeks, Clinton Nain and Jeffrey Samuels.
Kerrianne Cox “chose” to be homosexual because after being abused as a child she didn’t trust men anymore .
Lou Bennett, who co-founded the group Tiddas, is a gay singer and artist.
Last updated: 10 April 2013 | Out of respect for Aboriginal culture I use Indigenous sources as much as possible.
 'Health Superhero has come to life', Koori Mail 485 p.79
 'Focus on sistagirls for documentary', Koori Mail 493 p.45
 'At home on the Tiwi Islands but doing it tough', Sun Herald, 1/9/2011 p.8
 'Doing it Snake style', Koori Mail 496 p.36
 'Condoman returns', Koori Mail 455 p.4
 'Good education 'is a must'', Koori Mail 417 p.41
 Kerrianne Cox, "Defining Moments" series (ABC), Message Sticks Film Festival Sydney, 2013