11 March 2021

A bloody good cause: ACT volunteers hand out free period pads and tampons

| Hannah Sparks
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Share the Dignity ACT volunteer Angela McCaughey donates period pads at a Woolworths collection point.

Share the Dignity ACT volunteer Angela McCaughey donates a pack of period pads at a Woolworths collection point. Photos: Alison Hall.

Talking about periods should be as normal as having them, at least that’s the message of a new campaign in Canberra.

Share the Dignity launched Period Pride on International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March) in conjunction with its bi-annual Dignity Drive.

The drive collects period products throughout March and August, which are then donated to women experiencing financial hardship, while the campaign aims to remove the shame clouding periods, spark discussion and gain insight into period poverty.

Alison Hall has been a volunteer with Share the Dignity ACT for the past three years.

“After we moved back to Canberra, I was at home with the kids and wanted to do something that would connect me to a community group,” Alison said.

“I heard about the Dignity Drive just before Christmas, and when I learnt more about the initiative I was amazed that I’d never thought about how homeless women manage their periods.”

Alison said pads and tampons are often the first things to be taken off a shopping list when a woman is struggling financially.

A volunteer drops a donated period pack into the pink box inside Woolworths.

Members of the public can donate period products into the pink boxes inside Woolworths stores this March.

That’s why Share the Dignity works with 13 charities in the ACT to distribute around 2440 pads, tampons, incontinence pads and menstrual cups collected during the Dignity Drive.

“The volunteers visit the participating businesses once a week to collect the donations and deliver them to the charities throughout the month,” Alison said.

“Canberrans wanting to get involved can grab an extra pack in Woolworths and drop it in the pink box usually located near the exit.”

All approved period products are accepted as long as they are in their original packaging.

Woolworths also donates five cents per period product sold in store, which Share the Dignity uses to fund vending machines containing free period products across the city.

“People can go to the vending machines, located outside of shelters and schools, at any time and get a free period pack, which contains two pads and six tampons,” Alison said. “The vending machines give them that extra level of dignity because it means they don’t have to ask.”

However, Share the Dignity says simply distributing period products to those in need only puts a band-aid on period poverty and doesn’t solve it.

With that in mind, the charity will also be encouraging women to complete a bloody good survey this March to provide information about the social, personal and financial impacts of menstruation.

Alison not only campaigned outside Parliament House in Canberra to axe the tax on period products but is now also a proud advocate of the Period Pride message.

“This is about getting rid of the stigma and making it normal to talk about periods,” she said. “Since the campaign started, I’ve noticed even Woolworths has changed its ‘feminine products’ sign to ‘period products'”.

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Getting rid of the stigma? Talk about imagined persecution.
Why would women want to be walking around talking about their periods anyway? That’s about as normal as me wanting to make it normal to talk about my morning crap.

In any case, women clearly don’t want to talk about their periods. Any time I ask one if they are having their period, they act all offended. I guess that answers the question, but isn’t what you’d expect if they want to talk about it.

I think it’s a bit different to a daily ‘crap’ (as you so eloquently put it). Probably for men it’s more like having sperm randomly leaking out of you regularly, and how to control and manage it.

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