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Beyond Boundaries: Empowering Youth Sexual Health Through Research Entrepreneurship

Hannah McLean · June 14th, 2023

The path to research entrepreneurship looks different for everybody. For Maddie Lim, the journey to where she is today was a path even her younger self had not imagined. “I had thought that research was confined to working in a laboratory without much social interaction and what I wanted to do was to create a healthier future for women and girls by working with them”.

It wasn't until her Honours year, at the University of Melbourne, that Maddie truly grasped the profound impact of social science research. Through engaging with communities affected by health issues, she discovered a new perspective on research through the power of conversation and understanding. Today, Maddie finds herself in the final year of her research PhD, driven by a genuine passion for young people's sexual health.

Growing up in a conservative Malaysian Chinese culture, Maddie was curious about how other young people from similar backgrounds were navigating the complexities of sex. “By sex, I don’t just mean intercourse, I mean everything related to sex like consent, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, pleasure, and sexuality”.

“There is so much shame around sex that it doesn’t allow young people to learn about those important topics in a positive way,” Maddie expresses. “As a result, young people are left to learn about them in the dark and often through their own experiences, which can be very isolating and dangerous. I don’t think that’s the way forwards. Because if we allow the shame around sex to continue, negative health and social issues concerning sex and sexuality will perpetuate into future generations”.

Motivated by a profound sense of purpose, Maddie's aspirations extend beyond research publications. She recognises the critical need to translate her findings to a wider audience, especially those who require it the most. Through her research, Maddie has discovered that young people yearn for trustworthy and relatable information about sex, free from shame and judgment. Sadly, many remain unaware of the resources or support available to them.

In an effort to bridge the gap between research and real-world impact, Maddie is determined to take her research journey even further. Her ambition is not only to contribute to the field of sexual health but also to pave the way for a more sex-positive future “where young people are empowered to build healthy and safe sexual relationships”.

Maddie Lim has been a participant in our 2023 TRAM Track program and will be presenting this Thursday 15 June 2023 at our TRAM Track Presentation Day. Listen to 14 researchers share their impact journeys and register here.


Learn more about the TRAM Track program or register your interest for future cohorts here.

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