Like most big endeavours, Rochelle began small, collecting feminine hygiene products in her local Brisbane neighbourhood and donating them to a women’s shelter. However, increasing demand, necessitated the founding of the not-for-profit charity, Share the Dignity, to meet the needs of all homeless and at-risk women around Australia, for sanitary items.Rochelle, affectionately known as “Pad lady” didn’t set out to be a social entrepreneur yet her work is helping eliminate period poverty in Australia, where homeless girls and women, or those fleeing domestic violence, suffer the indignity of having to choose between buying food or sanitary products.
Share the Dignity now holds a national collection of sanitary products twice a year in April and August. The charity has collected more than 1.2 million packets of sanitary items since its formation. More than 4000 volunteers and some of Australia’s biggest corporations have also got behind the charity.
2018 Christmas AppealShare the Dignity are again running a Christmas appeal called #Itsinthebag. From 16th November to 2nd December 2018, people will be asked to donate a handbag filled with sanitary items plus some of life’s other essentials like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Bags can be dropped off at Bunnings stores across Australia and once every bag is collected, they will be given as Christmas presents to disadvantaged girls and women.
Last year over 98,000 bags were dropped off at Bunnings stores across the country and donated to disadvantaged women. As the need grows for essential sanitary items, the charity is now striving to collect 120,000 bags from generous Australians.
With the most ambitious target to date, Share the Dignity founder, Rochelle Courtenay, is depending on community kindness; “Christmas is such a special time, but we tend to forget there’s many people who need our help. Donating a bag filled with hygienic essentials is a small but extremely impactful gesture that people can take part in,” she said.
Dignity Vending Machine
Rochelle has also designed a world-first Dignity Vending Machine, known as the Pinkbox. The vending machines are purposely designed to dispense a free period pack of sanitary items. By the end of 2018, there will be 80 Pinkboxes installed in poverty-stricken schools, homeless centres, domestic violence shelters and areas of severe poverty Australia-wide.
Abolished the GST on Feminine Hygiene Products
Rochelle and her team of national supporters have successfully campaigned the Federal Government to abolish the GST on sanitary items stating: “It’s not fair or right to have GST on sanitary items because they’re a basic human right and not a luxury. Ferrero Rochers are a luxury in my house”. In October 2018, GST was finally lifted on sanitary items – thanks to the efforts of Rochelle and her team.
Increasing Demand for Services
Nearly 173,000 females across Australia sought help from homelessness services in 2017 – a number that has risen by 21 per cent over four years – with domestic and family violence identified as the main reason for seeking assistance.
Finding food and a safe space to sleep are some of the many challenges homeless women face, but the lack of sanitary products is why Share the Dignity has been working to eliminate period poverty in Australia since 2015.
How You Can Help Eliminate Period Poverty
To get involved and help share the dignity this Christmas, visit your local Bunnings:
DROP OFF LOCATIONS: All Bunnings Warehouse stores across Victoria
WHEN: Friday 16th November to Sunday 2nd December 2018
• Sanitary Items
For more information, head to the Share the Dignity website: sharethedignity.com.au/christmas-charity/