Under new proposed legislation, the Australian Capital Territory could become the first in Australia to offer free menstrual products for people experiencing period poverty.
Under the bill, products would be provided for free in ACT schools, universities, libraries and government shopfronts.
The proposed legislation from Labor MP Suzanne Orr would also see providers apply to be included in the scheme and receive government support.
Orr plans to introduce the bill in the ACT legislative assembly in the first half of 2022.
"In the first instance, we'd be looking at a range of government outlets where we can make these available," she said.
"You can already in the ACT get access to period products at school if you need them, but this will formalise that and make it far more accessible."
New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria already have existing initiatives to provide students at government schools access to free menstrual products.
however, the CT would go a step further by giving women of all ages the opportunity to have free menstrual products.
Orr said legislation was the final step to ensure products were definitely available for people experiencing period poverty.
Period poverty effects people who are unemployed, homeless or displaced due to domestic violence, resulting in a lack of funds for sanitary products, facilities and education.
Several countries have attempted to address this issue, including Scotland who became the first country in the world last year to make period products free for anyone who needs them.
New Zealand also has free sanitary products for all school-aged children.
"The criteria that we're quite keen to put in place is around places that are easily accessible, that don't necessarily single a person out who needs to access period products so they are not having any shame or stigma attached to it and places that a range of people can get to," said Orr.
"Periods are a normal bodily function, yet they are still heavily stigmatised in society, resulting in people being uncomfortable to talk about periods.
"Asking friends when in need of a tampon or asking a boss for time off because of period pain, are common actions often associated with shame.
"It shouldn't be this way, no one should be ostracised because they do not have access to the products, facilities and understanding they need to respond to a normal bodily function."
A survey of 125,000 Australians in August, through women's charity Share the Dignity, found that one in five respondents had previously struggled with the cost of period products.
Almost half of the respondents said they had missed at least one day of school because of their period and 74 per cent said it was often hard for them to afford products.
Featured Image Credit: René van den Berg / Alamy Stock Photo
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