By Emilie Ng
TEENAGERS can’t be forced to see sex as sacred, but Real Talk Australia presenter Justine Cumbo believes she can help them to be “critical thinkers” in their relationships.
The former campus minister has stepped in to help Brisbane-based ministry Real Talk Australia take “the truth about love and life” to Melbourne school students.
Miss Cumbo is one of 15 new presenters talking the “real” message of sex, relationships and personal identity to Australian and New Zealand Catholic, Christian and soon, state schools.
She said “throwing ideas at young people” was an ineffective way to convince them that the Church’s message of sexuality was true.
“Anyone can go in and reel off beliefs or reel off what should and shouldn’t be done, but when you empower somebody, when you inform somebody, and invite and encourage them to start thinking, you’ve just opened up a great treasure,” she said.
Teenagers’ lives could “flourish” with Real Talk’s message, which is based on God’s “great plan” for sexuality.
Real Talk Australia officially formed in 2012, and has since grown in popularity across Brisbane schools and is working in more than 25 dioceses.
Managing director Paul Ninnes said he was “shocked” that 100 per cent of schools they visited had requested a return visit.
Real Talk’s program shines light on Christian values around sex and relationships, and the value of marriage, underpinned by “the message of Jesus”.
Presenters have a variety of testimonies, including former misuse of their sexuality, unplanned pregnancies, or sexual addictions, but all have turned their lives around after finding God.
Mr Ninnes said students had been impressed by the statistics and personal stories used in their presentations.
“Even in as little as one hour we’re seeing real, tangible results,” he said.
“I think (it’s) because we’re real, we’re called Real Talk and we’re real with them and young people these days don’t want rubbish, they want authenticity.
“They want something that makes a take with them, where they go ‘Hey, that’s true to me’ not someone preaching on stage.”