Charles Sturt University (CSU) has taken on an initiative to end period poverty for its students.
The University has partnered with non-profit organisation Share The Dignity to provide free sanitary products to the students on campus.
Share The Dignity aims to help those experiencing period poverty and break down the shame and stigma associated with menstruation.
Distribution is via vending machines dispensing free #PinkBox period packs containing six tampons and two pads at the push of the button.
The initiative to install a Share the Dignity vending machine on the CSU campus was a collaborative effort backed by staff and students with the support of the university. It was steered by CSU equity, diversity and inclusion advisor Nicholas Steepe and a third-year veterinary technology student Ricki-Sue King.
“Access to sanitary products is a right, not a privilege,” Mr Steepe said.
“We want to ensure we facilitate that for everyone who comes to our campuses.”
Ms King said she is very proud to have a vending machine on the campus.
“Menstruation products in the past have been seen as a luxury with the pink tax, but they’re very much necessities, especially for broke university students living on Mi Goreng (instant noodles),” she said.
Ms King said the response from the students to the vending machine installation has been very positive.
Uptake of people accessing the machine has been overwhelming, according to Mr Steepe.
“Last month we filled up 35 packs within a couple of weeks of people accessing it,” he said.
The Wagga campus currently has one vending machine and if the uptake proves to be popular, the likelihood of installing another vending machine is high.
“It would make sense to have one at either end of the campus,” Mr Steepe said.
Students at the university can access period products safely and privately, making a life-changing difference for some.
Local volunteers known as the ‘sheroes’ look after machine maintenance and restocking to ensure products are always readily available.
Share the Dignity founder and managing director Rochelle Courtney dreamt of finding a way for people who are doing it tough to access period products without the anxiety and shame many feel when asking someone else for help.
“I was shocked to discover that people were using rolled-up toilet paper and hand towels to manage their periods,” Ms Courtney said.
“I could not believe that people were having to choose between feeding their family or buying period products.”
Share the Dignity purchase and supply the specially made period packs to the vending machines sponsored by businesses, grants and donations.
Share the Dignity works to make a real, on-the-ground difference in the lives of women, girls and those who menstruate experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence or doing it tough. They distribute period products to those in need and work to end period poverty in Australia.
Those wanting to support Share the Dignity can sponsor a vending machine or hold a birthday fundraiser to swap gifts for donations that fund period packs.
Visit Share the Dignity for more information.