Whilst Victoria hasn’t been kicking many goals in the last year, the introduction of free tampons and pads in all Victorian public schools, is definitely a win. Becoming the first state or territory to do so, the $20.7 million initiative is aimed at reducing the discomfort and embarrassment arounds periods for school-aged girls.
Menstruation is often an uncomfortable part of growing up as a young woman, particularly in the early stages with friends developing at different rates and the taboo connotations associated with periods. The scheme will provide free tampons and pads in not only government secondary schools, but government primary and specialist schools as well. Through providing free sanitary products in schools, the Andrews government is hoping to progress further towards educational equality for all students.
Any woman will know that getting a surprise period at school can be distracting and potentially incredibly mortifying, particularly without access to pads or tampons. It can be incredibly unsettling to use toilet paper in lieu of the appropriate products, consequently impacting the way that female students learn each month.
The initiative will not only play an important role in eliminating the awkward encounters of asking “does anyone have a pad?” in the girl’s bathroom but will also reduce the cost of living for families who are struggling. Menstruation is a normal part of life, yet can cost families hundreds of dollars each year, massively impacting tight budgets of those who are doing it tough.
Whilst the use of sanitary products in schools is entirely voluntary, through providing students with the option, they can make a choice based on their needs, religious and cultural beliefs, maturity, and personal preference. Sanitary items are a necessity, not a luxury, therefore this scheme will help support tens and thousands of students across Victoria.
At the end of July, the government announced that all government schools could provide access to pads and tampons in school bathrooms, with the completion of the rollout scheme being reached. These products will continue to be available for students until June 2023, free of charge.