Today Mark spoke in support of the motion calling on the Government to work with the feminine hygiene industry and community partners to expand the current provisions of sanitary product support in South Australian schools and develop a free, accessible and non-stigmatising supply and distribution scheme for a range of hygiene and sanitary items.
That this council—
1. Notes the importance of women and girls hygienically managing their menstruation with confidence, dignity and without stigma;
2. Recognises period poverty is a significant issue for those who are already statistically at greater risk of being unable to afford basic essentials such as pads and tampons;
3. Acknowledges that it is unacceptable that any woman or girl in South Australia is unable, or has difficulty in accessing, menstrual hygiene items;
4. Agrees with the recommendation made by the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People in her report Leave No One Behind with respect to the provision of hygiene and sanitary items in South Australian schools; and
5. Calls on the government to work with the feminine hygiene industry and community partners to expand the current piecemeal provisions of sanitary product support in South Australian schools and develop a free, accessible and non-stigmatising supply and distribution scheme for a range of hygiene and sanitary items as a matter of urgency.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I rise to support this motion as well. I note that, within the Greens team, education falls within the portfolio area of my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks, but I am keen to make sure that this debate is not conducted only amongst the women in this chamber, so I will add a few comments.
We had already decided that this was a motion we were going to support, but what added to that support and was helpful for me was the newsletter that many of us received in our inboxes today from the South Australian Association of State School Organisations (SAASSO). They took the Commissioner for Children and Young People's recommendations about the free, easily accessible and non-stigmatising provision of sanitary products to female school students and asked their readers what they thought about it.
They had a high response rate. They had 1,362 people who responded. Of those respondents, nearly 80 per cent—79.41 per cent—agreed that this was an overdue initiative and only 20 per cent said no. Interestingly, nearly 90 per cent of school principals thought that this was a good idea. SAASSO have helpfully extracted not all of the 1,362 responses but a selection of the comments that people made.
Some of these people are teachers and some of them are parents of schoolchildren. They point out that the comments were generally supportive, but some people thought that the conversation was a little bit tacky. That goes to what the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos said, which is that it is not a subject that we are comfortable talking about. So I have found some of these quotes that I would not normally be comfortable talking about, but I am going to do it anyway. Some of the comments that came back were:
It's a basic necessity that more and more families are unable to afford.
I wish that it had been provided when I was at school. Would have saved a lot of embarrassing moments!!
Not all students can afford to access them…simple as that…this is a basic need.
Another one from a teacher:
I keep them in my desk for students.
But then another teacher says:
Great idea. Better than us teachers paying for them out of our pockets. Thanks SAASSO.
And the one that is a little bit more confronting, but let's not call a spade a Geoprobe:
If you want students to be at school and learning, they need to be not starving and not worried about blood running down their legs. This is really a no-brainer.
I support the motion.