Periods can be a tricky thing to talk about. They're awkward, confronting, and down right painful for many women.
But while most women in Australia have ready access to sanitary items during their time of the month, for women who are homeless, experiencing family violence, or struggling financially, those basic necessities become a privilege.
That's where Share the Dignity comes in. Back in 2015, Queensland woman Rochelle Courtenay noticed there were too many women going without during their period.
"Rochelle heard there were women who didn't have access to sanitary items and each month were being forced to use things like paper towels or toilet paper or having to choose between food or tampons," Share the Dignity Bendigo regional leader Lauren Read said.
"She couldn't believe that was an issue and I think many people don't realise that it is a problem."
Ms Read first heard about the group in 2015 when they were calling out for donations of pads, tampons, and other sanitary items.
"I started by donating to that campaign," she said. "As I learnt more about Share the Dignity itself, I realised it was a great charity and a great organisation and I decided I wanted to do more."
Since the charity started in 2015, Share the Dignity has worked with and supported more than 3000 charities across the country that assist women who are homeless or disadvantaged.
They have also received and provided around 1.9 million packets of tampons and pads, as well as more than 2000 menstrual cups, to Australian women.
Share the Dignity breaks up the fundraising into different events. There are two Dignity Drives each year where sanitary products are collected for the charities.
There is also a DigniTEA high tea event held in February, along with the annual It's In The Bag donation drive in November where people can donate handbags full of essential items like shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant as well as sanitary items.
"We want these handbags to be a present for someone," Ms Read said. "We deliver them just before Christmas."
But the group's focus at the moment is on the upcoming Dignity Drive. From August 1, the organisation will be calling on the public for sanitary item donations.
"Share the Dignity in Bendigo is supporting charities in Bendigo like Bendigo Community Health and Haven; Home, Safe," Ms Read said.
"So every item donated by the public in Bendigo will be going to charities within the Bendigo community.
"These items are then held at the organisation or charity and the people at those organisations know the girls and women that need them.
"We are asking the public to donate sanitary items, so they could be obviously pads or tampons or incontinence pads," she said.
"But we're also now seeing a lot of requests come through for more sustainable items like menstrual cups, reusable pads and period underwear."
Ms Read said you don't have to be a volunteer to help out the charity. All it takes is buying some extra sanitary products at your next supermarket shop.
"We're very fortunate that this year Woolthworths has come on board for the first time," she said.
"Not only are they donating monetary items with every packet of pads or tampons sold at their stores, they are also acting as the main collection point for our Dignity Drive.
"It makes it so easy for the general community to go into Woolies and buy a couple of extra packets of tampons or pads. Then on the way out, pop them into the box at the store entrance.
"Woolies will be the main one but we've always been supported by small businesses in Bendigo as well," she said. "We really appreciate the support they've given us over the years.
"There will be businesses coming on board as collection points so a collection map will be available on the Share the Dignity website within the next week."
Share the Dignity remains primarily a volunteer organisation. There are more than 4400 people across the country who help the charity do the work they do, but Ms Read said Share the Dignity was in "desperate need" of more volunteers in the Bendigo region.
"We just did a shout out for recruitment in the last month and we have just taken on board up to eight new volunteers, which is fantastic," she said. "But volunteers are something that we are still in urgent need of in our area.
"The thing with volunteering with Share the Dignity is that we totally understand that everyone is busy. Everyone has jobs, everyone has families and everyone has other commitments that they need to attend to.
"But you're only required for the three campaigns - the Dignity Drives and It's In The Bag - and only if you're available.
"You're certainly not expected to be available for every campaign, but it's just whatever time you're capable of giving."
While periods will always be a woman's issue, Ms Read said there was nothing holding back men from helping out with the cause.
"As volunteers, we're called sheroes and heroes," she said. "That's our thing and we certainly have men volunteering with us. If there are any men in Bendigo who would like to join us, we'd like that as well.
"I'm sure that every partner at some point has been sent down to the supermarket with the demand to buy tampons and chocolate," she laughed. "So I'm sure they're all well versed in what women need."
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer in Bendigo or the surrounding region should head to the Share the Dignity website, Ms Read said.
"There is a link there to become a volunteer," she said. "Once you go through the volunteering process, you'll then be joined to the Bendigo area.
"We will welcome you on board with very open arms - we would be excited to have as many volunteers as we can."
Share the Dignity needs as many people as possible on board to help end period poverty, Ms Read said.
"In Australia in 2019, this shouldn't be happening," she said. "That's what Rochelle and the volunteers at Share the Dignity are working towards.
"Women should never be caught out without these absolute life necessities. It's about bringing their dignity back."
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