Victorian public schools are Australia’s first to give students free pads and tampons as part of an effort to improve inclusiveness and break down the “stigma of periods”
The programme aims to “reduce anxiety and embarrassment around periods for girls” at school, and will include free pads and tampons in bathrooms at Victoria’s more than 1,500 state schools.
The Victorian government will spend $20.7 m over four years on the scheme, which will also include a menstrual health awareness campaign in addition to the sanitary items.
First revealed in advance of the 2018 Victorian election, the state government began introducing the system last year, and revealed on Tuesday that it had completed the scheme ‘s implementation.
The government also hopes that the plan will save “families hundreds of dollars a year” and help women students “focus on their studies.”
“Pads and tampons are available free of charge in school bathrooms, relieving anxiety and embarrassment for girls, and ensuring they can get the most from their education,” a government statement said.
“Schools will play an important role in promoting a positive culture around menstrual health and build a supportive environment among the school community.
“Lack of easy access to pads and tampons can negatively impact on students’ participation in sport and everyday school activities.
“Students may not be able to concentrate in class, feel comfortable or feel confident doing physical activity, or they may miss school altogether,” the statement said.
The scheme is expected to offer more than 27 m free pads and tampons next year, based on the expectation that 95 percent of girls in years 6 to 12 will be using the products, a study previously disclosed about the project’s tender documents.
Now only senior high school students and children who can not be supervised at home attend school in Victoria.
“Getting your period is a normal part of life and sanitary items are a basic necessity”.
“We’re ensuring all girls in our public schools have access to pads and tampons when they need them, so they can focus on their studies,” Victorian minister for women, Gabrielle Williams said on Tuesday.
The Victorian education minister, James Merlino said “we’re proud to be providing free sanitary items in all Victorian government schools to ensure that students – regardless of their background or circumstances – can focus and participate fully in their education”.
Victoria ‘s plan comes after the federal government has decided to abolish GST on sanitary products from early 2019, a decision that is estimated to have cost states about $30 million in tax revenue annually.