WA is known as the ‘Wait Awhile’ state but it has finally caught up with providing free period products.
Perth mother of three Jenny Cake said WA has been behind the curve on this issue.
“I’m not surprised at all that we were last,” Ms Cake said.
“With a largely very popular Labour government and a massive budget surplus, there’s no excuse at all to not lead on things like this,” she said.
In the past three years, the program has been rolled out across the nation.
The first was Victoria, in 2020, who created a $20.7 million program, ensuring every government school in the state provided free pads and tampons.
Last year, Queensland teamed with charity, Share the Dignity, in supplying free period products in vending machines to 120 public schools.
Finally, on Monday, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced public high school students in Years 7-12 will have access to free period products, making them the final state in Australia to implement the program.
“Because having your period should never be a barrier to getting an education,” McGowan said.
Health and hygiene company Essity is supplying the products in a program that will cost $6.4 million over five years.
“With the rollout now underway, I hope it provides young women with some comfort by ensuring they have access to free period products when they need them,” said Women’s Interests Minister Sue Ellery.
“I wish it had been around when I was at school,” said Jenny Cake.
“Every family is different and varied. Not all girls are able to have conversations about menstruation so having products freely available at school enables them to carry on without the stress and shame that can often be associated.”
There are plans to provide all WA TAFE colleges with access to free period products by the end of 2023, but Perth universities are not included in this.
Nyah Siegmund is a 21-year-old student studying a double degree of Law and Human Resources at Notre Dame.
“As a financially independent full time university student, I think it is important for free period products to also be accessible in university bathrooms,” Ms Seigmund said.
“University students are more likely than high school students to have to monthly, fund the acquisition of overpriced period products,” Nyah said.
“As a full-time student, income can be limited and necessities like these can have a large impact.
“Additionally, just because university students are older why should they be denied access to free period products?
“If the stance is that a period should never be a barrier to education, then all women in education should be granted the same access.”
Schools will receive the first round of products in Term 1, with a second round being delivered during Term 2.