In a national first, a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will provide pads and tampons in every government school – free of charge – because being able to access sanitary products shouldn’t be a barrier to getting a good education.

While getting your period is a normal part of life, for female students it can cause inconvenience, frustration and embarrassment – especially if it starts unexpectedly when you’re at school.

We know that students who do not have access to sanitary products often cannot concentrate in class, may not feel comfortable doing physical activity, or may miss school altogether.

It can create unnecessary stress for students trying to navigate finding a tampon or pad, and that may delay regularly changing them, placing them at greater risk of toxic shock or cervical cancer.

Labor believes that tampons and pads are as basic and necessary as toilet paper and soap. That’s why Labor will provide free sanitary items in all female, unisex and accessible bathrooms at all government schools from term three, 2019.

This will provide students with the confidence that when they go to the bathroom, there will always be sanitary items there, relieving them of anxiety and discomfort so they can get on with their day.

The Department of Education and Training will work with schools to determine the best method to dispense the items.

This will make Victoria the first state or territory in Australia to ensure every government school student has universal access to free sanitary products. It follows similar moves in the United States and Scotland, where research has shown girls can miss school because they’re too embarrassed to get tampons or pads, or can’t afford them.

It will make it easier for students to focus on their studies, and it will help ease the cost of living on families.

Labor has long advocated for the removal of the GST on sanitary products, as it is an unfair and stigmatising tax. Sanitary items are a necessity, not a luxury, and this move will support tens of thousands of girls and young women right across the state.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

 “Young women and girls at school shouldn’t have to worry about having access to a basic necessity like tampons and pads – and Labor will make sure they don’t have to.”

“We want to break down the stigma of menstruation and ensure it does not impact on a student’s ability to be comfortable at school and ready to learn.”

“This is about giving female students the dignity they deserve, and helping families with the cost of living along the way.”