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Tackling period poverty head on

In an Australian first, TAFE Queensland has committed to tackling the issue of period poverty by providing free period care products to staff and students.

At TAFE Queensland we believe being able to access period care products should not be a barrier for staff and students to getting a good education or full engagement in the workplace.

The Period Positivity Program is a partnership between TAFE Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Essity Australasia (parent company of Libra Period Products), to research the barriers to product accessibility and the impact this has on both students and staff. It aims to tackle the issues of period poverty by providing staff and students with the reassurance that there are period care products available on campus and help relieve the stigma, anxiety and discomfort associated with menstruating so those who get periods can focus on their studies and work tasks.

In February 2022 TAFE Queensland's Gold Coast campuses first trialled the use and impacts that providing free period care products would have on staff and student engagement with working and learning.

An internal survey after the pilot program found that 56 per cent of respondents had used the dispensers with 62 per cent stating they'd previously had to leave work or class because of limited access to period care products. Of those 62 per cent, 82 percent stated that since having access to products on campus, their attendance had improved. Just over a quarter of respondents stated that they'd previously had to use unsuitable products, such as toilet paper, and 28 per cent said they'd had to leave class or work. An overwhelming 95 per cent of respondents said they'd like to see TAFE Queensland continue the program.

From Semester 1 2023 TAFE Queensland will now provide free period care products at 25 campuses across the state.

Greater Brisbane Sunshine Coast Gold Coast North and Far North Queensland Darling Downs and South West Wide Bay Burnett

Acacia Ridge

Alexandra Hills

Bracken Ridge

Caboolture

Eagle Farm

Inala

Ipswich 

Loganlea

Mt Gravatt

Nambour

Mooloolaba

Ashmore

Coomera

Coomera Marine

Robina

Southport

Cairns

Mount Isa

Townsville (Pimlico)

Toowoomba

Bundaberg

Gympie

Hervey Bay

 

More about period poverty and the program

Period poverty is the inability to afford or access period care products to help individuals manage their period with dignity. It can cause anxiety, social isolation, lack of confidence and concentration, poor body image, reduced community participation, bullying, school/work absenteeism, and poor health resulting from poor hygiene. Period poverty can also be compounded by the lack of good education, inadequate toilet facilities, and challenging complex social norms and culture.

Lack of easy access to period care products can present a significant obstacle to health, comfort and engagement with education and community activities. It can also negatively affect staff and student engagement, behaviour, and equal participation in work and everyday learning activities. By providing access to period care products, these barriers can be reduced.

The Period Positivity Program roll out now includes an information pack, installing dispensers at 25 campuses across six regions, removing the barrier and stigma associated with period poverty, and information on better personal hygiene practices. A review of the program will be conducted at the end of Semester 1 2023 with the aim of identifying if expanding to other campuses is required.