FREE PERIOD PRODUCTS IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS

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Access to period products is a necessity, not a luxury.

The need to access period products exists for every young person who experiences menstruation including young women, girls, transgender, and gender diverse youth, in ways that meet diverse needs and cultural perspectives.

Periods are a fact of life for half the population. Despite this, young people don’t always have access to the products they need to feel comfortable at school, engage in their learning, and manage what should be a normal and healthy part of life.

Poor access to period products is known to affect students’ attendance and engagement at school. Students also miss out on sporting and cultural activities and can feel embarrassed and ashamed, affecting their achievement and wellbeing.

Providing access to free period products to those who need it will:

  • reduce barriers to access and improve school attendance, sports involvement and tertiary participation
  • improve child and youth wellbeing
  • reduce financial strain on families experiencing poverty/material hardship, and
  • promote positive gender norms and reduce stigmatisation of menstruation.

In the first instance, pads and tampons should be provided. These products are easy to use and appropriate for a broad range of students’ age, developmental, and cultural needs in a schooling context. The Australian Government should then consider alternative products, including menstrual cups and eco-friendly sanitary underwear, as the successful initiative rolls out.

In 2020 the Victorian state government were the first to provide free pads and tampons in government schools – ensuring all students feel comfortable managing their periods and reduce period stigma, while saving families hundreds of dollars each year.

The initiative cost $20.7 million dollars and included an information campaign for students about managing periods, which has been implemented in over 1500 schools.

The pads and tampons are freely available in school bathrooms, helping to ease any anxiety and embarrassment around menstruation for students and allowing them to focus on their studies.

Let’s see if all other Australian states and territories can follow Victoria’s (and NZ’s!) lead…