A new trial will see sanitary products handed out for free in public schools to address the growing issue of period poverty.
New South Wales will follow the lead of other states in providing sanitary products to students who are missing school because they don’t have access to them.
Department of Education secretary Mark Scott announced the trial in a budgets estimates hearing on Wednesday, the SMH reported.
Isobel Marshall was named the 2021 Young Australian of the Year for her work in addressing period poverty
‘We are developing work on a pilot program around this and details will be emerging on that shortly,’ Mr Scott said.
Pictured: Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott
‘We are looking to test how we could effectively roll this out.’
Young Australian of the Year, Isobel Marshall recently put a national spotlight on the issue through her work to fight period poverty at home and overseas.
Ms Marshall and friend Eloise Hall created non-for-profit social enterprise ‘TABOO’ in 2017 and developed a brand of ethically sourced organic sanitary products.
Ms Marshall said menstrual products should be more accessible and affordable, and shouldn’t act as a barrier to education.
Dr Ruth Knight from The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies told Women’s Agenda that period poverty is still considered a ‘taboo topic’.
‘Period poverty is a real issue that is under-researched’, Dr Knight said.
‘We have anecdotal evidence of teachers personally donating products but there is a lack of data about the level of need.
‘We’ve been told girls use socks or rolled up toilet paper with underwear left on the floor or in bins while toilets are only accessible at certain times of the day.’
Pictured: Dr Ruth Knight from the The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies
Dr Knight said the announcement of the trial was ‘fantastic’ but also ‘long overdue’.
She said educators have been anecdotally aware of the existence of period poverty in their schools, but rarely made records of when girls were experiencing it.
There was no evidence of girls leaving or missing school because of their period until recently, maybe that’s the reason why there’s policy now, she said.
‘While I’m interested in gathering evidence of incidents, I’m equally as interested in interventions, programs and solutions’, Dr Knight said.
‘Providing pads, tampons and other sanitary products is just one piece of the puzzle’.
Dr Knight said education around the issue was essential in empowering girls to have ‘period dignity’.
‘Period dignity is being able to talk openly about periods, it’s taking it to the human rights level of the conversation.’
Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott has announced a new trial that will give public school students free sanitary products
Victoria became the first state in Australia to provide free period products to students in government schools in 2020.
Machines that dispensed period products were installed in every school in the state, in a $20.7 million initiative that was completed in June, 2020 and will continue for the next three years.
In February, South Australia announced free sanitary items would be provided to all female students in Year 5 and above.
Of the $450,000 program, South Australia’s Education Minister John Gardner said the three year investment would assist the students in greatest need.
‘We are committed to working with schools on improving student well being and removing barriers to learning’, he said.
‘We want to ensure that no girl or young woman in South Australia is missing school because they don’t have access to sanitary products.’
The trial aims to address the issue of period poverty where students are missing school because they can’t access sanitary products
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News