Sanitary items to be free at state secondary schools

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Female sanitary items will be freely available in all Victorian state schools as part of an Australia-first initiative to reduce the stigma surrounding periods. 

Announced by the Victorian Government this week, pads and tampons will be available in a free dispenser at all primary, secondary and specialist schools, helping families save money.

The $20.7 million investment is part of a 2018 election commitment and is set to begin next week, with the rollout planned to be completed by June next year. 

Local Share The Dignity volunteer Renee Grant was fully supportive of the initiative and believed it was an important step towards educating young women in the community. 

"This is a fabulous idea and totally needed for education purposes," Ms Grant said.

Share the Dignity is a national not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for women's rights and collects pads, tampons and personal hygiene products for women experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Ms Grant, who works as a sales agent at Rossignoli Real Estate in Shepparton, said the business became involved with the cause as a drop-off point about four years ago. 

"It's actually a women's right to have access to sanitary items, it's not a luxury," she said. 

"This is an initiative that we needed."

Ms Grant said this was another positive step for women's rights, after the tampon tax was scrapped in January. 

"These are products that every girl and women needs," Ms Grant said. 

Minister for Women and Youth Gabrielle Williams said the new addition at schools will help normalise periods and remove barriers that can negatively impact students' participation in everyday activities. 

“While getting your period is a normal part of life, for some young girls it can be a source of anxiety or embarrassment," Ms Williams said.

"This will help to reduce the stigma and make it easier for girls at school.”


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