The Victorian government has pledged to provide free tampons and pads in Victorian state school toilets if it wins the November 24 election, while the Coalition opposition has committed to set up a new unit to streamline the deportation of violent non-citizen criminals.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said access to female sanitary items should be seen as a “basic necessity” along with hand soap and toilet paper.
“This is about giving female students the dignity they deserve, helping families with the cost of living along the way,” Ms Hennessy said.
“We want to break down the stigma for young women and girls, and make sure it doesn’t impact on them feeling comfortable at school and being able to focus on the important things like learning.”
Labor has committed to spending $5 million over one year, and Ms Hennessy said all female, unisex and accessible bathrooms in state schools would be stocked with the products by Term 3 in 2019.
She said similar policies had already been introduced in the United States and Scotland.
The announcement comes one month after Australia’s political leaders agreed to remove the GST from sanitary products, following an 18-year campaign that argued the extra cost on such items was unfair.
Opposition health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said the Coalition is “happy to have a look at this policy”.
“We are open to new ideas which help female students more easily access sanitary products and reduce the chance they miss school or can’t concentrate because they have their period,” Ms Wooldridge said.
In a separate women’s health policy announcement last month, the Coalition committed to making the contraceptive pill an over-the-counter medication for women after they obtain their first prescription from a doctor.
Coalition pledges deportation unit
Meanwhile, the opposition pledged to create a new unit within the Department of Justice to help deport non-citizens that have a violent criminal record.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the unit, which would include up to 10 staff, would streamline the deportation process by collating information from Victoria Police and other state government agencies and then making recommendations to the federal government.
Mr Guy said dozens of people in Victoria could be targeted shortly after the unit was established.
“We don’t control the ultimate migration process into Australia,” he said.
“That is a federal process.
“But it is incumbent on the state government to do something about [violent criminals], to identify those people who need to be recommended and deported. We can’t just sit by and be spectators.”
Mr Guy said the idea had not been recommended by the federal government or its agencies.
“I don’t rely on other people to tell me how to do my job. I go away and do it proactively,” he said.
“If we can streamline a system between Victoria Police and other agencies into one agency, providing one unit of advice will be a lot more efficient than three or four agencies providing advice to the feds.”