The NSW Education Minister has today indicated that a rollout of free period products in NSW public schools is imminent, with her response to Greens MP Abigail Boyd's questioning during Budget Estimates stating that 'there is a need for this in our schools' (footage attached).
Lines attributable to Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW Upper House MP and Women's Equity spokesperson:
"Around 150,000 public school students menstruate, and every one of them deserves access to basic sanitation.
"This is a win for students across the state. I first raised this issue with the Minister over a year ago and I am glad to see that the program will now be expanding.
"Free period products should be found in every bathroom where you find free toilet paper - there really is no logical reason for it to be any other way.
"With the scrapping of the tampon tax in 2019 and a move towards free provision of period products in our schools in 2022, we are well on our way to ending period poverty within the decade."
The NSW Government undertook a trial of free period products in 30 schools across Dubbo and Western Sydney in 2021.
Period poverty in Australia is understudied, but studies done overseas show us just how dire it is. In the US, nearly one in five girls aged 16-24 have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products (Always USA, 2017). In the UK, 1 in 14 girls missed school in 2017 alone because they couldn't afford period products (Always UK, 2018).
More than half of UK teachers have been aware of students in their school who are unable to afford sanitary products, and nearly a third of those teachers agree that students affected by period poverty tend to perform below average in class (Always UK, 2018).
In Australia, we know that people living in remote communities often have to pay up to $10 for a packet of period products (Hall, 2017).
Always USA, Always Confidence and Puberty Study: Based on females 16-24 years old 2016 U.S. census 2017, via Share the Dignity report 2020.