Free period products will soon be made available in some civic spaces in Melbourne, after Melbourne City Council agreed this week to launch a year-long pilot program to address period poverty in the city.
The program will see free pads and tampons provided in public bathrooms, recreation centres, swimming pools, community centres and libraries.
Councillor Jamal Hakim, who is also the managing director of Marie Stopes , said the program is designed to give women, girls and all people who menstruate the respect, dignity and bodily autonomy they are entitled to.
“Access to period products is not a privilege, it is a right. It is about inclusion. It means access to basic activities, capacity to take part in work, and community for women and girls, and people who menstruate who would otherwise be excluded,” Councillor Hakim said in a speech on Tuesday.
“It is about the full realisation of women and girls, and people who menstruate so that they are able to participate fully and freely in our communities. We have a habit of leading the charge at the City of Melbourne to make the lives of everyone who lives, works and visits our great city better – and this is another step in that direction.
City of Melbourne’s pilot program will begin in at least six sites, and will also partner with other organisations for a wider rollout, the motion put to council stated.
The idea is that a more permanent scheme providing free period products would follow the initial pilot program.
“Menstruation in and of itself is stigmatised. So not only is it important to combat period poverty, it is important that we have conversations about period poverty, as well as health and menstruation management,” Hakim said.
“Menstruation in and of itself is stigmatised. So not only is it important to combat period poverty, it is important that we have conversations about period poverty, as well as health and menstruation management.
“We run public facilities, centres and toilets etc that people in our municipality use and it is therefore within our direct ability to enhance the livelihoods, wellbeing, health and inclusion of those who would not otherwise have been able to take part in our municipality (whether for work or community interaction or any other reason) as a result of not accessing period products.”
The initiative from Melbourne City Council follows the decision by the Victorian government to make period products free across public schools in the state in 2019.