CENTRAL Victorian health organisations have welcomed plans to lift the so-called ‘tampon tax’.
The federal government today announced feminine hygiene products would no longer be subject to the GST from January 1.
It follows an 18-year campaign to have tampons, sanitary napkins and the like recognised alongside condoms, lubricants and sunscreen as exempt from the 10 per cent tax.
“Every step is to be counted as a step towards gender equity,” Women’s Health Loddon Mallee executive officer Tricia Currie said.
“Every step counts. We’re going to welcome it as another step towards seeing what has not been seen.”
She said lifting the unfair tax would help women maintain their dignity through a very natural requirement of their personal care.
There were many circumstances in which Ms Currie said women could experience an increased need for feminine hygiene products, including excessive or heavy bleeding.
Ms Currie also said women experiencing economic disadvantage could find themselves having to weigh the need for feminine hygiene products against other essential items.
Bendigo Community Health Services chief executive Kim Sykes said the demand for accessible, affordable feminine hygiene products was demonstrated after the organisation started stocking free sanitary packs in the foyer of its Bendigo Central office, at Hargreaves Street.
“They disappear very quickly,” she said.
About three weeks have passed since the organisation started offering the packs, which were donated goods.
“We replenish that stock daily,” Ms Sykes said.
BCHS estimated it supplied about 20 sanitary packs per week.
For more than 10 years, the Zonta Club of Bendigo has been supplying central Victorian organisations with toiletry bags to distribute to women who have had to leave home in a hurry.
Recipients include the Centre for Non-Violence, Annie North Women’s Refuge and Haven; Home, Safe.
The club provides an average of about 200 bags per year, its president Ann Horrocks said.
In more recent years, Bendigo Zonta began offering a tote bag containing a night’s worth of toiletries.
Related: Treasurers scrap sexist tampon tax
Mrs Horrocks said the club had supplied about 100 – 150 tote bags to a range of organisations including Bendigo Health and headspace in the past year.
She said the removal of the tax on feminine hygiene products would mean the club was more easily able to provide these necessary goods to women.
“Ten per cent is a big difference,” Mrs Horrocks said in the context of the club’s spend on supplying the products.
When it came to household budgets, she said every woman would save over a dollar a month.
Ms Sykes said it would be a very positive thing if abolishing the tampon tax was in some way an acknowledgement that people on low incomes had less money to spend on essential items, and if it was a step in understanding a nation like Australia had to look after those with less disposable income.
“One would hope in future years we would see a similar outcome for breastfeeding items as well,” she said.
While Ms Currie said today’s outcome was a step in the right direction, she said it was not the end of the conversation.
She was curious about how applying a gender lens to other health issues could improve outcomes for the community as a whole.
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