Free period products will be rolled out to WA public secondary schools

Free pads and tampons will be offered to WA public school students in grades 7-12 to ensure girls don’t skip class because they can’t afford sanitary products .

WA is the latest state in Australia to offer free vintage goods in schools, with the scheme due to roll out in the first term of next year.

“It’s time we did this in schools,” said Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk.

“For too long, girls and young women have felt embarrassed [and] often they did not have access to the products they needed.”

Simone McGurk says she hopes the initiative will help end the stigma surrounding periods. (ABC News: Cason Ho )

The state government says 225 public schools will receive the free products, but it has not yet determined how much the program will cost.

A “very big” expense

The state government must also determine how students will access the products.

Mt Lawley High School student Daisy Edwards said she would prefer a vending machine for privacy and convenience.

“So that still means that [students are] control themselves, and they can get what they need instead of having to go and ask,” she said.

Mid shot of Daisy Edwards looking aside at Simone McGurk
High school student Daisy Edwards welcomed the initiative. (ABC News: Cason Ho )

Daisy said the cost of period products was a “really big expense” in her home, which she shares with three older sisters.

“I’m very excited for this to happen…it just means you have it there, and it’s that extra support and comfort…at school,” she said.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the government would review how the initiative has been rolled out across the country before making a decision.

“There are a range of options in place in other states, we will look at them,” she said.

The program will go out to tender in October to find a supplier.

Mid shot of Daisy Edwards looking aside at Simone McGurk
Daisy Edwards, pictured with ministers Sue Ellery and Simone McGurk, says she would prefer to see vending machines rolled out (ABC News: Cason Ho )

WA latest to ease ‘periodic poverty’

The WA government’s commitment comes after a huge movement in Australian public schools to alleviate what is known as ‘periodic poverty’, where women and girls cannot afford sanitary products.

In 2020, Victoria became the first jurisdiction in the country to provide access to period products in public schools.

South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania followed suit in 2021.

Public schools in New South Wales and Queensland this year began providing free menstrual hygiene products after successful trials.

And in the Australian Capital Territory, where free sanitary products are already available in public schools, a bill has been introduced which, if passed, would provide free pads and tampons to anyone who needs them. need.

Ms McGurk defended WA lagging behind the rest of the country, saying there was an ever-increasing demand for public funds.

“There is always a demand for the government to do more and provide more free services,” she said.

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