Pad Up For Public Health Is the Movement Calling For Free Period Products in Public Hospitals

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If you’re admitted to hospital to give birth or have an operation, you probably expect to be guaranteed access to period products during your stay. But, rather shockingly, this isn’t the case. In public hospitals across Australia, people are being left without access to pads and tampons during their hospital stay, having to rely on family members to bring them in.

To find out more about this, Australian charity Share the Dignity put a call out to its community asking for people to share their experiences. According to Share the Dignity, the response was overwhelming and thousands of people responded with stories of being left without period products while in hospital.

“While it might be a hospital policy to stock period products, we found this wasn’t the experience of all women,” reads the Share the Dignity website. “Availability is limited and many rely on the kindness of nurses and midwives who give pads from their own supply. Some women had to wait hours for help, lying in their own blood. This is not okay.”

One such instance recounted by a woman named Rachel revealed just how dire the situations can be when period products aren’t easily accessible in hospitals.

“My waters spontaneously burst in hospital at 33 weeks, and the hospital had nothing to offer me so I had to wait 12 hours until family could bring me items, meanwhile [I was] leaking amniotic fluid everywhere,” Rachel wrote on Facebook. “There was no dignity in it during an already stressful situation. I was just given towels and some disposable bed protectors to sit on.”

To help make period products a staple in public hospitals, Share the Dignity has created #PadUpPublicHealth — a campaign that encourages people to reach out to their State and Federal Health Ministers to lobby them for a change in the policy.

This was the advice of Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt when Share the Dignity sent him an advocacy letter about the issue. “Decisions regarding arrangements for the provision of free period products and maternity pads in the public health system rests with the state or territory governments and individual hopsitals” Hunt wrote.

“I would encourage you to contact the respective state and territory Health Ministers regarding your proposal directly.”

To make this process easier for you, Share the Dignity has created template letters that you can download via its website and send to your local MP and/or state and territory Health Minister. To find out who your state Health Minister and local MP is, Share the Dignity has a handy list for you to access.

It doesn’t take long to change a few things in the letter and send it via email or post to your local representatives. Many hands make light work and banding together to create much-needed change within the hospital system will make it a more pleasant experience for people in the future.

For more information on getting involved, head to the Share the Dignity website. Let’s do what we can to help end period poverty in Australia.

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