Warwick women, girls get free pads, tampons in historic first
After years of community fundraising and successful Share the Dignity initiatives, Rose City residents in need will finally have access to free period products for the first time.
The new Dignity Vending Machine or 'Pinkbox' is installed at Warwick Hospital in the disabled toilet next to the pharmacy, and dispenses free packs of six tampons or two pads up to every 10 minutes.
The Warwick Hospital Pinkbox was funded by comedian and social media star Christian Hull and his mother, Karen, with the pair raising more than $18,000 for Share the Dignity in the past two years.
The long-awaited installation finally realised Warwick Share the Dignity leader Julie Unwin's dream of giving constant, judgment-free access to sanitary items to women and girls in need.
"Period poverty shouldn't be a thing in 2021, but it is. It's a thing in our town, affecting our girls, our women, anyone who menstruates," Mrs Unwin said.
"We have in Warwick so many varied faces of women in need that it doesn't always match the image from TV that people are expecting, so they think it isn't happening as badly here.
"My personal goal is for all women and girls to have access to free sanitary items, and especially in schools. If (girls) can access it within schools...it empowers them to know they can get access without asking parents to go to charities."
Warwick Hospital acting director of nursing Leesa Deacon said she was thrilled to see local women and girls given a practical solution to an all too common concern.
"For some women, accessing these products isn't a problem, but for others managing their period each month can be another stress," Ms Deacon said.
"We hope this machine will mean that these women will have one less thing to worry about when they are in our hospital."
Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay said access to period products remained "a right, not a privilege" for all members of the community.
"We know that with JobKeeper payments ending, services like our Dignity Vending Machines are going to be in higher demand …(which) can help the most vulnerable members in our communities to manage their period with dignity," she said.
Dignity Vending Machines have also been installed at Toowoomba Hospital and Oakey State High School, with the Darling Downs Health venues supporting nearly 4000 residents experiencing period poverty to-date.