Free sanitary pads and tampons in all public schools

Helping schools promote positive menstrual health

Funding of $20.7 million over four years has been committed by the Victorian Government to provide free sanitary pads and tampons in every government school from Term 3, 2019 because being able to access sanitary products shouldn’t be a barrier for girls and young women to getting the most out of their education.

The Government’s commitment to provide free pads and tampons in government primary, secondary and specialist schools will:

  • Provide students with the confidence that there will always be sanitary items available at school
  • Relieve female students of the stigma, anxiety and discomfort associated with menstrual hygiene management so they can focus on their studies
  • Ease the cost of living for families.

Getting a period is a normal part of life, but for female students it can cause inconvenience, frustration and embarrassment – especially if it starts unexpectedly at school. Students who do not have access to sanitary products often cannot concentrate in class, may not feel comfortable doing physical activity, or may miss school altogether. Sanitary items are a necessity, not a luxury, and the free sanitary pads and tampons in public schools initiative will support tens of thousands of girls and young women in schools across the state.

Victoria is the first state or territory in Australia to ensure every government school student has universal access to free sanitary products.

The provision of free sanitary pads and tampons in all Victorian public schools will commence from Term 3, 2019 with the installation of dispensing machines in a minimum of one school bathroom in every public school campus.

Schools will play an important role in promoting a positive culture around menstrual health and build a supportive environment among the school community.

Schools also have a duty of care to ensure that students accessing tampons at school understand the importance of good menstrual hygiene to reduce the risk of getting toxic shock syndrome, although this is rare. Students will be provided with information about menstrual hygiene management.

The use of sanitary items provided at school will be entirely voluntary. Providing both sanitary pads and tampons allows students to make a choice based on their own needs, cultural beliefs, maturity and preferences.

The Department will provide schools with communication materials to increase parental and community understanding of this new initiative.