Female students at public schools across NSW will soon have free access to menstrual hygiene products, building on a trial in the NSW Central West and south-western Sydney regions.
The $30 million program will make sure female students can participate in all aspects of school life, the state government says.
Ahead of International Women's Day on Tuesday, NSW Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said it was an important milestone for female students.
"Getting your period should not be a barrier to education," Ms Mitchell said.
The program is set to provide schools with dispensers, tampons and pads for free, geared at supporting young women's health, engagement and attendance at school.
"I want our young women to feel comfortable in knowing they have access to free sanitary products when they need," Ms Mitchell said.
We have seen through the pilot program [in the Dubbo and south-western Sydney regions] that providing sanitary items has a positive impact on educational engagement and attainment.- Education Ninister Sarah Mitchell
The initiative builds on a trial at 16 schools in the Dubbo electorate, among a total of 31 schools, announced in March 2021.
"We have seen through the pilot program that providing sanitary items has a positive impact on educational engagement and attainment, " Ms Mitchell said.
The issue has increasingly been in focus for girls and women in both Australia and abroad in recent years.
Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said the statewide roll-out was what many young women had been calling for.
"This great initiative is about ensuring our young women have the support they need, with dignity and without barriers, as they continue their education journey," Mrs Taylor said.
"By openly discussing periods, endometriosis and reproductive health we are removing the taboo around women's health issues."
The Department of Education will work with each school to discuss options for the location of the dispensers and facilitate installation through external contractors.
The program is expected to be rolled out to every school by June 30.
In 2020 it stepped up the bid to end "period poverty", making menstrual hygiene items free, and available at designated public places.
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