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The impact of menstruation on wellbeing, participation and school attendance

In 2020, the Commissioner for Children and Young People (CCYP) undertook a survey of students in public schools in South Australia. Over 3,000 responses were received from young people aged 7 to 22 years.

Their responses outlined many issues but particular concerns relate to ‘period poverty’ – the inability to afford basic hygiene and sanitary products due to disadvantage.

Many schools reported a reliance upon assistance from manufacturers, charities and community groups to supply the period products they need to meet the demand that exists. However, many said these partnerships are becoming harder and harder to maintain as the numbers of students in need continues to grow year on year.

The evidence also suggests that individual ‘champion’ teachers are bearing the financial burden of supporting students who come to them for assistance in sourcing period products. Counsellors, wellbeing and first aid staff are also having their time diverted from other tasks, to address what is a basic product supply issue.

Many of these students do not have the understanding of menstruation or their bodies and they not only struggle to manage their periods, they also struggle socially, in class and are unable to participate in sports without sanitary products.

The Commissioner published her report to raise awareness at all levels to improve menstrual wellbeing across our community by acknowledging that it is a systemic gender equity and equal opportunity issue, and that because of this, it needs a comprehensive systemic policy response.

You can read the full report here:

Learn more about the CCYP here:

The IEU proudly supports Share the Dignity, a women’s charity in Australia that works to make a real, on-the-ground difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough. They distribute period products to women, girls, and anyone who menstruates who needs support. We have a donation collection box at our office – 213 Currie Street Adelaide. Schools can create their own Share the Dignity drive and we can collect the sanitary products for you and pass them on to Share the Dignity.

You can read more about Share the Dignity here: