Free sanitary products at all schools to help girls thrive and destigmatise periods

HELP: Juliana Addison, Phoenix P-12 College's Deanne Joosten, and Michaela Settle with the free sanitary products. Picture: Adam Trafford
HELP: Juliana Addison, Phoenix P-12 College's Deanne Joosten, and Michaela Settle with the free sanitary products. Picture: Adam Trafford

Girls at all Victorian government secondary schools now have access to free sanitary products after the rollout of the scheme was completed this week.

Local MPs Juliana Addison and Michaela Settle visited Phoenix P-12 Secondary College to mark the end of the rollout of the provision of free pads and tampons in every government school - a $20.7 million program which was a 2018 state election promise.

Schools across the state now have dispensers in female toilets where girls can get free pads and tampons. reducing the discomfort and embarrassment around periods for girls and saving families hundreds of dollars a year.

Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said lack of easy access to pads and tampons could impact negatively on girls' participation in sport and everyday school activities.

It also meant they might not be able to concentrate in class, feel comfortable or feel confident doing physical activity, or they might skip school when they have their period.

"Getting your period at school can be awkward and embarrassing for many girls. This program is about destigmatising periods and bringing menstrual health and hygiene out of the shadows into the mainstream. Tampons and sanitary pads are just as necessary as toilet paper, so they should be freely available," Ms Addison said.

Phoenix P-12 Community College vice principal Deanne Joosten said freely available sanitary products would empower young women to have greater control over their health and wellbeing.

"From a school perspective it's about empowering young women with knowledge and access to sanitary items to be able to destigmatise that whole thing which can cause them concern and anxiety in the school environment," she said.

Girls are able to access the pads and tampons in the bathrooms without having to go to sick bay or talking to school staff.

"It's about being able to manage it and control your own health and wellbeing yourself without feeling you have to snack off to sick bay," Ms Joosten said.

Alongside the rollout of the sanitary product dispensers will be more educational resources.

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"Access to education resources will also ensure our young women are equipped with a greater understanding of their own personal health and also help to destigmatizing access to sanitary items at school," Ms Joosten said.

Victoria is the first state or territory in Australia to ensure all students attending government schools have access to free pads and tampons.

"No young woman should need to rely on a jumper around her waist to feel secure. Periods are a normal part of life and sanitary items are a necessity. This program will relieve anxiety and embarrassment for girls and make sure they get the most from their education," said Buninyong MP Michaela Settle.

This story Free pads, tampons in Victorian public schools in Australian first first appeared on The Courier.