Ending 'period poverty'

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Council will investigate ending ‘period poverty’ in the Inner West with a pilot program of supplying free period products in Council-run libraries, pools, community centres, sporting ground change rooms, and highly utilised public toilets.

Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these. It affects an estimated one in five Australians.

Period poverty sees girls and women miss out on community engagement and educational opportunities and has a particularly detrimental effect on women who are homeless.

At last night’s Council Meeting, Councillors unanimously decided to consult with local community organisations, health services, schools and sports clubs to find ways to address this problem.

“People who experience period poverty can’t afford the menstrual products they need, and, in many cases, this means that they can’t go to school or work or otherwise participate in daily life,” said Inner West mayor Rochelle Porteous.

“Period poverty causes physical, mental, and emotional challenges. People feel shame and suffer in silence because of the stigma surrounding periods.

“An Australian survey earlier this year found that close to half of the 125,000 respondents said they had missed at least one day of school because of their periods.

“And more than one in five said they are using toilet paper, socks or other unsuitable alternatives to manage their periods because they can’t afford pads or tampons,” Mayor Porteous said.

Council officers will prepare a report which will include an assessment of the need for the service and the costs.

Last night, Council noted that governments at many levels are taking action to address this inequality.

Free menstrual products are supplied in Scotland and in schools in New Zealand and Victoria.

The NSW Department of Education is trialling a schools program in 2021, and Melbourne City Council agreed in April 2021 to fund a year-long pilot program to make sanitary products available in public change rooms, recreation centres, swimming pools, community centres and libraries.

Appropriate sites in the Inner West could include a Council buildings frequented by young people such as libraries and pools, community facilities, accessible public toilets and change rooms at sporting grounds.

For media enquiries, contact Shane Teehan, Media and communications , 9392 5117 or Shane.Teehan@innerwest.nsw.gov.au

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Page last updated: 04 Nov 2021