In a significant stride towards addressing period poverty, the Victorian Women’s Health Services extends warm congratulations to the Victorian State Government for its ongoing commitment to providing free access to pads and tampons. The recent release of tenders to procure these essential products for women and girls is a commendable step in the right direction (Free Pads and Tampons Program Creating Local Jobs, 13th December 2023).
Tricia Currie, CEO of Women’s Health Loddon Mallee and Chair of the Women’s Health Services Network, expressed enthusiastic support for the government's efforts, stating, “The Victorian Women’s Health Sector is wholeheartedly behind the government’s initiatives to tackle a longstanding issue faced by many women in our community. Period poverty is a genuine concern, exacerbated by the rising cost of living, forcing women and girls to make difficult choices between essential items and menstrual hygiene products.”
Currie emphasized the pressing nature of the issue, citing alarming statistics derived from the Womens Health Services work and evidence:
- Over one in five individuals experiencing menstruation resort to using toilet paper, socks, or other unsuitable alternatives due to financial constraints.
- Approximately 50% of menstruating individuals admit to wearing a pad or tampon for more than four hours due to insufficient access to products.
- 40% of individuals facing menstruation challenges opt for less suitable products due to financial constraints.
“While initiatives such as access to vending machines and resources on women’s health are commendable for improving the well-being of women and girls, they must be approached sustainably and within the broader context of gender equality, health promotion, and primary prevention,” remarked Currie.
The Victorian Women’s Health Services has published two significant reports underscoring the importance of health promotion and gender equality for the well-being of Victorian women—“Small Change Big Impact” (2023) and “Return on Equity” (2023) by Impact Economics, highlighting the economic returns of primary prevention and health promotion.
In advocating for a comprehensive approach, Currie emphasized the need for a gender lens in all health and social policies. She urged the Victorian Government to prioritize health promotion activities that:
- Educate communities, schools, and students about the normalcy of menstruation.
- Support schools in providing equitable and respectful access to period products and information.
- Foster and fund community-driven campaigns that challenge and address the stigma and shame surrounding periods.
To ensure the success of government investments in vending machines, resources, and information, Currie stressed the importance of effective communication and collaboration with schools and communities. The Victorian Women’s Health Services remains dedicated to collaborating with the government to eliminate period poverty and enhance the well-being of all girls and women through a comprehensive and inclusive approach.
Tricia Currie Chair, Women’s Health Services Network
Phone: 0428365929 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The full report Return on Equity: Health and economic dividends from investing in Women's Health Services can be found on the Women’s Health Services website along with a recording of the launch held on the 23rd of November 2023. https://www.whsn.org.au/an-economic-case
The report on the activities work and collective impact of the Victorian Women’s Health Services Small Change Big Impact can also be found on the Women’s Health Services website along with a summary of the report. https://www.whsn.org.au/evaluation-report
For further information on the work of the Victorian Women’s Health Services go to www.whsn.org.au
The Women's Health Services Network has been a driving force progressing and shaping Victoria’s women’s health and equality space for four decades. While our services were established and funded independently of one another, collaboration has been a strong part of our history. Today, the 12 women’s health services funded through the state government’s Victorian Women’s Health Program operate under the title the ‘Victorian Women’s Health Services Network’. This enables us to work as a coordinated, mutually-reinforcing statewide network comprising both place-based and specialist services.
Communications Lead, Women's Health in the South East
M: 0412 317 334