ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Addressing Period Poverty and Stigma in the ACT

15 December 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the introduction of a Bill to help address period poverty and the stigma associated with periods in the ACT.

The draft Bill, released today by Suzanne Orr MLA, aims to ensure reasonable access to free period products at places of education and at ACT Government-run locations. Service providers will also be able to apply to be included in the scheme and receive ACT Government assistance to provide free-of-charge period products.

Period poverty affects many people in Australia and manifests itself in ways including a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities or appropriate waste management. 

Period Pride’s recent ‘Bloody Big Survey’ showed that 15% of respondents in the ACT have been unable to afford period products at some point in their life.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “It is shocking that some members of the Canberra community are denied the basic dignity and hygiene afforded by the provision of period products.

“Period poverty affects those most disadvantaged by the high costs of living in the ACT, as well as other people including those experiencing family violence.

“We need to ensure that everyone who menstruates has free and ongoing access to period products as well as clean and sanitary public toilets in which to use them.

“We welcome the exposure draft of this Bill which promises to enhance access to period products in education settings, at shopfronts and in other spaces. 

“ACTCOSS also welcomes the Bill’s intention to introduce menstrual information and education resources in public schools and at ACT Government-run locations such as libraries. This will help to reduce the social stigma related to periods that can keep people from participating in school, work or social life.   

“The need to respond to period poverty in Canberra once again shines a light on the urgency of a meaningful increase to JobSeeker. With the end of the Coronavirus Supplement, the payment is now barely more than the brutal old Newstart rate and provides a mere $44 a day to cover job searches as well as the basics of life, including food, clothing, petrol, rent and essentials like personal products.

“We congratulate Ms Orr for introducing this Bill and driving attention to these issues. We will be following debate in the Assembly closely and urge all members to consider this important legislation,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.