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‘Saying no to the tampon tax is an attack on women and equality’

Share The Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay has a strong message to any politician who votes to keep the tampon tax in place.

By Ellie McDonald

Share The Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay has seen first hand the devastatingly negative impact the tampon tax has on Australian women from all walks of life. This is what she has to say to Senator Pauline Hanson, who has publicly supported the tax stay, and any politician from any party who doesn't consider the abolishment of the tampon tax to be a national priority.

"To the politicians against the removal of the tampon tax,

Please explain why you're against the tampon tax.

Three years ago, I read that 44,000 women were experiencing homelessness here in Australia and while they didn't have somewhere safe to call home, they also got their period like the rest of us every month.

But unlike you and I, they were dealing with their period in very different ways to us; instead of using tampons and pads, these women were forced to use socks, newspaper and wadded-up toilet paper in place of sanitary products. They just couldn't afford anything else.

If that's not enough to show you just how much the tampon tax impacts Australian women, perhaps this will…

Daily, we hear stories of girls missing school because of a lack of access to sanitary items; women having fled domestic violence living in their car, using socks in their underpants to deal with their period because the $5 spent on a carton of tampons could also buy her family a loaf of bread and sausages for dinner that night.

Only a few weeks ago, we were contacted by a mum who had fled domestic violence with her 10-year-old daughter. During this horrifying ordeal, her daughter had got her period, leaving this already struggling mother to resort to cutting up her pads that she had been given by a charity. She cut the pad into three parts, sticky-taping them into her daughter's underpants.

This mum had no other choice. Heartbreakingly, she simply couldn't afford the sanitary products her daughter needed.

Now, as a woman and mother to a daughter, Pauline imagine how not only this young girl felt, but her mum, too.

STILL need convincing? A 12-year-old girl in Perth left a tampon in for two days because her family couldn't afford sanitary items, and this was all she had. As you would know, this is simply unhygienic. What's beyond me is that you're yet to understand just how unacceptable this is here in this nation we're both so proud to call home.

These stories are endless…

These are just a few of the shocking reasons I decided to start my charity, Share The Dignity – an organisation committed to providing homeless and at-risk women sanitary products to allow them a sense of dignity at a time when they need it most.

Since starting my national charity, Share The Dignity has collected more than 1.2 million packets of pads and tampons to help women in need. That's $6million in donated items, with over $500,000 of that amount being tampon tax.

Pauline, I'm actually disappointed to hear another Australian woman and mother say this is a fair tax and that the removal of the tampon tax is not right. I would love the opportunity to discuss this further with you and invite you to come speak to women who are using socks in their underpants to deal with her period because they simply cannot afford the basic of necessities.

Because no woman deserves to have their dignity stripped from them during a time when they need it most - especially because they can't afford it.

To learn more about Rochelle's charity, Share The Dignity, and how you can help this necessary cause, visit www.sharethedignity.com.au.

Ever since the introduction of GST, women have been paying tax on tampons. Now Australia's leading magazine brands including The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and Good Health have united behind the push to end what is essentially a tax on being a woman. Sign the petition below if you agree the Gender Selective Tax should be removed.

And share it too. Every single name will send a clear message that removing the GST on tampons is another step towards gender equality. After all, getting your period shouldn't be considered a luxury. And you shouldn't be taxed because of it.