Funding sanitary products in public restrooms

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Think about the women, not the money

Have you ever been in public and instantly felt that your time of the month had arrived? You panic and don’t have any sanitary products on you and run straight the bathroom to realise there are no pads or tampons dispensed in vending machines. What do you do then? Call or text a girlfriend for an emergency kit? Use toilet paper as a temporary fix and then proceed to purchase them at the closest convenience store?

There is often a solution for all us women but there are often limited solutions for homeless women. Feeling embarrassed and having the fear of being judged by the general public, homeless women often don’t get the luxury of phoning a friend or have a restroom equipped with all the necessary products to stay clean during their TOM.

Sydney City Councillor, Edward Mandla has constructed a proposal, allowing women to access sanitary products for free across all council restrooms.

Mandla stated, “city of Sydney is flush with cash and throws around money like there’s no tomorrow. There’s money for everyone and lots of talk about equality. But there’s little in practical leadership solutions.

Providing free sanitary products for homeless women is a low cost solution that we can all help to achieve in the near future.

If the votes are accepted to proceed with Mandla’s proposal, this can make a real difference for the homeless women being able to access public restrooms and gaining free access to sanitary items.

With the support of campaigns like Share The Dignity which was founded by Rochelle Courtenay to deliver sanitary products to homeless women and the survivors of domestic violence and Sydney’s Period Project which provides the care and support for homeless women by donating sanitary items, you can easily help out by donating your monthly sanitary products to either campaigns to make a difference.

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Drop the GST on periods

 

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“Where’s the social and economic justice?”

Picture yourself strolling through a local convenience store or supermarket and stocking up on sunscreen for the summer, nicotine products and lubricants. Why is it fair that these products are GST exempt but the essential sanitary products of pads and tampons have a 10 per cent tax put in place?

In 2015, Bill Shorten went against Tony Abbott’s decision to keep the GST on sanitary products for women. However, on the 8th of June, 2016, Shorten was asked “if elected will you drop the GST on tampons?” He failed to admit that it would take place stating, “no, i’ve to say, I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep.” During the live stream of the forum held in Brisbane, it was clearly evident that Shorten was steering away from the main question by bringing in the issues of cutting back on medical costs and protecting Medicare.

Why are pads and tampons deemed as a ‘luxury’ and non-essential?

While the tax can be easily ignored by women who can afford as much as $12,000 in a lifetime on these ‘luxuries,’ it is one of the most difficult challenges for homeless women. Homeless women are often found stealing sanitary products from the local stores and fined 5 times as much as the cost of the products. Periods for them is not a lifestyle choice.

New York, Canada and Kenya have all removed the tax on menstrual products so why is Australia falling behind?

As women, we can all agree that periods are agonising enough. Picture how excruciating it is for homeless women. Let’s put a halt on the tampon tax!

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An uplifting solution for homeless women

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Restoring the dignity in the lives of homeless women

Most of us take for granted the daily necessities of having a warm shower and changing into new clothes every day, but maintaining personal hygiene is one of the greatest challenges for homeless women.

The NSW Government approached a non-for-profit organisation known as OneVoice to transform state transit buses into a mobile shower service. OneVoice has recently provided homeless people with a mobile shower bus that allows them to shower, brush their teeth, change their clothes and most importantly, to restore their dignity. The mobile shower service can hold up to 2000 litres of water and can provide 40 hot showers a day, accommodating 15 people each time.

Can you already see how this will be the next refreshing solution for homeless women?

There is no need to queue up for hours waiting for a shower, no need to use public restrooms and no need to squeeze into the tiny cubicles at gas stations.

One Voice is making a difference for all homeless people by building relationships, offering mobile wardrobes, free haircuts and more! Homeless women don’t need to feel embarrassed or judged during their time of month (TOM) anymore with access to a clean shower and fresh clothes on the go.

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The benefits of menstrual cups over pads and tampons for homeless women

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Healthier for you, your bag and your environment!

Comfort, cleanliness, convenience and leak-free! The words you all want to hear when that time of the month comes around.

Did you know that on average, a woman endures approximately 456 periods over the span of 38 years? Little did you know that you could be spending up to $12,000 (AUD) on pads and tampons and up to $23,000 (AUD) on the disposable products as well as pain relief, birth control, new underwear and of course, all the sweets in your lifetime.

One of the most difficult aspects to consider is how homeless women have limited access to health care and the life essentials of feminine hygiene protection where rag towels and toilet paper are used as alternatives and disposable products are not an option.

What could be the next solution to save these homeless women? Menstrual cups. 

menstrual cup is used to collect the menstrual fluid for up to 12 hours rather than absorbing it like a tampon or pad would. It is cleaned, reused and can last as long as ten years!

While the homelessness community struggle to access female hygiene products, Dive Cup are committed to supporting these women by offering the better solution of using menstrual cups over pads and tampons.

Saving money, holding more menstrual liquid, avoiding harmful additives that are used in tampons, being leak-free for 12 hours, odourless, lowering the chances of getting toxic shock syndrome and avoiding rashes are just some of the benefits that menstrual cups provide for women and more specifically, can be beneficial for homeless women in the long run.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the tampons and pads! Do you think menstrual cups are more beneficial for homeless women?

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The 5 difficult challenges homeless women face

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Can you imagine using a ripped cloth or towel to protect yourself from bleeding?

Doubt, struggle and shame are just some of the factors that tie together the shared experiences of the homeless commune.

For the women who are homeless, there are numerous challenges that only they know. From what it is like to be on their period with limited access to sanitary products to what it is like to go through the menstruation cycle without a restroom or shower to stay clean. All of which are services that are desperately needed by these women.

While many of us think homelessness is atypical, living on the streets is more common than you think. According to homelessness Australia, women make up 59% of people who have accessed homelessness services in 2014, which is equivalent to 85,000 people.

Here, we have 5 real challenges homeless women face on a daily basis:

1. Access to hygienic products is limited.
For homeless women, menstruation is not a choice and is a nightmare. Shelters in Australia are not often allocated significant funds to provide the homeless women with the sanitary products of tampons or pads. Homeless women are often found using a ripped up rag, public toilet tissue or a towel to protect themselves from bleeding, leading to the increased chances of an infection.

2. Access to maternal health care is very difficult.
Research has shown that the number of homeless women facing inadvertent pregnancy is higher than that of the estimated general population with far more complications that arise for both the homeless women and their children. While support services and homelessness accommodation is on offer, it is often believed that homeless women receive the care of lower standards with the lack of services to doctor’s appointments, medication and products needed to help their infants. 

3. Domestic violence is one of the biggest contributing factors to homelessness.
Domestic and family violence related homelessness is becoming a widespread issue in Australia, with 36% of the 187,000 people turning to homeless services as a result of this issue. It is notably becoming an increasing problem where 63% of women are not reporting domestic or family violence and as a result, fear becoming homeless and choose to stay in violent relationships over the idea of risking unstable housing.

4. Safety for women decreases.
Whether it is on the streets or in homeless shelters, there are far more homeless men which becomes a concern for women’s personal safety. How can they be helped? Women’s community shelters open their doors to homeless women, providing them with the support services needed to rebuild their self-worth and to reestablish their ability to take control of their lives once again.

5. Mental health problems are recorded for 1 in 10 women.
72-82% of homeless women suffer from mental illness, this includes anything from depressive disorders to the lifelong trauma of domestic or family violence. Keeping this in mind, homeless women are less likely to receive the right care and services they need to cure such illnesses. Red Cross is a compassionate organisation that leverages mental health support services towards the homeless women, incorporating a socially inclusive approach that removes the stigma of such issues.

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Welcome!

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Image Source: Shelter Review

Why does a woman have to feel embarrassed to ask for a tampon or pad to protect herself from bleeding?

Speak Out for the Leak Out is dedicated to raising the awareness of hygiene for the homeless women.

Homeless women struggle each month with the lack of access to sanitary products, public friendly restroom usage and showers, increasing the risk of infections that weaken the immune system, potentially leading to the causes of cervical cancer.

This campaign believes that a difference can be made for the future of homelessness. Throughout the weeks of this campaign, you will see the alternatives to pads and tampons, the provision of bus showers for the homeless to maintain personal hygiene, the big ideas, values and movements that are here to help support the homeless communities, why the GST on sanitary products should be put to a halt, the stories of the homeless and possible solutions to end homelessness !

We hope that by the end of this campaign, we will be able to achieve the support of different organisations including some of the greatest including Share The DignityThe Sydney Period ProjectOne VoiceLava Mae and The Homeless Period, just to name a few.

With that said, stay tuned for more information on how you can help to make a difference by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!