Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore has given notice of a motion (below) calling on the government to follow the lead of Aberdeen, Scotland, and establish a pilot program to give free menstrual hygiene products to low socio-economic households.
The Aberdeen scheme, announced early last month, will see the Scottish Government contribute £42,500 in funding over a six-month period to tackle ‘period poverty’ in Aberdeen, where access to sanitary products for homeless and disadvantaged women is a significant problem.
“Sadly, Australian women and girls are facing similar challenges to those in Aberdeen, when it comes to affording and accessing menstrual hygiene products,” Senator Kakoschke-Moore said.
“It may come as a shock to Australians to learn that it’s not unheard of for homeless and disadvantaged women in this country to use newspaper or dried leaves as makeshift pads which can lead to serious health problems.
“The discussion paper from the University of Queensland and WaterAid Australia published in July 2017 noted the challenge of some girls in remote communities who are missing school each month due to a lack of products to enable menstrual hygiene management.
“It is completely unacceptable for any woman or girl in Australia to be unable to access menstrual hygiene items.”
Senator Kakoschke-Moore said a pilot program would be the first step in developing a sensitive and dignified solution to making menstrual hygiene products easily accessible to those who need them.
“On average, a woman has 450 menstrual cycles in a lifetime and each cycle will use up to 30 menstrual hygiene items - items which are an absolute necessity,” she said.
“As a nation, we can’t let this situation continue – Australia can do better, Australian women and girls deserve better.”
The motion, which will be moved in the Senate tomorrow (Tuesday, August 15), comes after Senator Kakoschke-Moore wrote to Health Minister Greg Hunt, Minister for Women Michaelia Cash and South Australian Minister for Health Jack Snelling about a several weeks ago about establishing a pilot program. She is yet to receive a response.