On World Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Greens have announced their plan to combat period poverty in Australia by providing free period products in all public primary and secondary schools.
“Menstruation products should be free in schools, period,” Greens spokesperson for women Senator Larissa Waters said.
“Period products are a necessity, not a luxury: it's about bloody time we make them accessible to everyone, regardless of their income.
“Parents don’t have to send their kids to class with a roll of toilet paper, so why should they have to also cover the costs of pads and tampons?”
“Providing free pads and tampons to every Australian public high and primary school is an easy and effective way to reduce period stigma, improve students’ health and wellbeing, and minimise school absences.
“It’s been so heartening to see movement on this issue this year, with almost all of the states now trialling providing period products in schools.
“However, trials in only a fraction of schools is not good enough.
“The Greens think the federal government should contribute $25 million per year in funding so that all schools nationwide provide free period products, not on a trial basis, but permanently.
“The parliamentary budget office has costed our policy and for an average of $25 million per year in federal funding, we could provide period dignity to all public school students across the country.
“The Government just increased subsidies to fossil fuel companies up to an obscene $11 billion per year in cheap diesel and the like. For $25 million a year, we could put free pads and tampons in all public schools, improve the health and wellbeing of our students, reduce period stigma, and ensure that no one has to skip school because they can’t afford period products.
“Period poverty in Australian schools is real. A Queensland University of Technology study last year reported anecdotal evidence of Australian teachers personally donating period products to students, and students using socks or rolled up toilet paper to manage their periods. Many students skip school out of shame.
“Many parents already struggle to find money for textbooks, uniforms, and excursions. We know that some parents are having to choose between sending their kids to school with pads and tampons and putting food on the table.”
“We know that in the United States, nearly one in five girls age 16-24 have either left school early or missed school entirely because they didn’t have access to period products. And in the United Kingdom, 1 in 10 parents admitted they had been forced to send their child to school without pads or tampons, knowing they needed them.
The Greens initiative would also help to raise awareness of more sustainable period products.
“Pads and tampons are the easiest products for young people to hygienically use when they first start their periods,” Senator Waters said.
“But the Greens envision providing pads and tampons in schools will also create a platform to raise awareness for more sustainable options, such as period underwear and moon cups, for students who can afford to invest in them.”
Quotes attributable to Rochelle Courtenay, Share the Dignity founder
“Ending period poverty will take a multi-pronged approach, simply distributing products only puts a band aid on the issue. We need to provide further education and everyone deserves access to basic hygiene.
“We know anecdotally that girls are missing school due to their period. We’re excited to be conducting the largest survey on menstruation in Australia to gain real hard evidence on this and make change in how we discuss periods and period poverty across the nation.”