Scotland became the first government to address period poverty by providing free tampons and pads. Now there is pressure on the Australian government to follow suit.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is calling for government action to enable free access for all women and girls' to sanitary products.
Public schools in Victoria already provide free sanitary products, but RANZCOG President Dr Vijay Roach said he has been “inspired” by the recent policy developments in Scotland to start a similar conversation in Australia.
“No woman or girl should have to compromise their health or confidence because they cannot afford the products they need to stay healthy,” Dr Roach said.
“As a gynaecologist, I speak to women who have menstrual disturbances every day and I know those disturbances are lifestyle impairing, lifestyle limiting and sometimes life-changing.
“Even normal menstruation has an impact on a woman's ability to enjoy activities, such as running, swimming, playing sport and sometimes even leaving the house.”
Youth Activist Plan International Australia, Elizabeth Payne, says giving out free sanitary products will help remove the stigma surrounding menstruation and acknowledge that it is a basic bodily function.
“For women on a low income the $5 cost for tampons could force them to have to choose between nappies and tampons,” she said.
Ms Payne added that if the government were to enact a project like Scotland it would need a lot of stages.
"It will need to acknowledge that transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people menstruate and need access to these products too.”