DISCREETLY tucked away in unisex toilets at Ballarat North Community House is a pinkbox dignity vending machine – just the third installed across the state.
The Share the Dignity vending machine, distributing free sanitary items to those most in need, has arrived just in time for the organisation’s August sanitary drive which launches on Tuesday.
One touch of a button, every 10 minutes, will dispense a period pack containing two pads and six tampons – enough to manage about one day’s menstrual flow.
Share the Dignity’s Margaret Anderson said placement of the machine should help remove the embarrassment of having to ask for sanitary products.
“Women don’t like asking for anything – food, help, anything they’re entitled to have – but this way they can come in and take them,” Ms Anderson said. “Some people are very private.”
The machine, like the drive campaign, aims to help women unable to afford sanitary products. This can include homeless women, those who couch surf or live in cars, women in domestic violence shelters and females living in poverty.
Eureka Conveyancing’s Katrina Abrams funded the machine for Ballarat after learning one of her friends had struggled to purchase sanitary products.
Ms Abrams had already been a supporter of Share the Dignity drives and It’s in the Bag handbags stuffed with women’s essentials.
“We wanted to see what else we could do as a business,” Ms Abrams said. “This is something we could do to help give back to the community.”
Other vending machines are installed at The Living Room youth project and Hampton Park school in Melbourne, but the organisation is looking to push more regionally where there was less access to support services.
Share the Dignity collection points for pads and tampons can be found this month at all Coles supermarkets, Fernwood Fitness, St John of God Hospital Ballarat, Food is Free laneway, Australian Hearing Services, Harwood Andrews and New Generation Clothing.