SUPPORT: Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay has plans to distribute 50 tampon vending machines by the end of the year.
SUPPORT: Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay has plans to distribute 50 tampon vending machines by the end of the year. michelle.smith

Pink vending machine changing women's lives

HOMELESS Ipswich women are among the first in the country to benefit from a pink vending machine that distributes sanitary products for free.

The Ebony is part of Share the Dignity's Pink Box program which aims to ensure homeless women and women who have fled domestic violence have access to personal hygiene products.

The machine at Ipswich Housing and Support Services is set to be in place within a matter of days and is one of 30 rolling out this month.

There are already 10 machines in operation across the country and Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay has plans for 50 to be in place by the end of the year.

She said it took 18 months to develop the vending machine which worked on a timer - the packs containing two pads and four tampons are distributed every 10 minutes.

"The people that go into that service are doing it tough so there is a homeless, having fled domestic violence service in need. We do a lot of due diligence as to where so the location was about the number of women they help and the availability of the services," Ms Courtenay said.

 

"It will make a massive difference, that they don't have to go up to a counter and ask women for pads and tampons. They will literally be in the bathroom and they can help themselves.

"It's just overwhelming. Helpfully we get to also see an increase in school attendance. That warms the cockles of my heart, every child deserves the right to be at school."

She said there were bold plans to expand the service but at $9000 a machine and $2.50 a pack distributed, the charity needed the community's support to continue helping women.

"We will have 30 by the end of July which is really only just a drop in the ocean of what we need to be doing. We want 50 by the end of the year and then another 50 by the end of next year," she said.

"We are non-government funded charity. Our funds come from our events and fundraising efforts so it we waited for the government for money, we wouldn't be getting anything done.

"We've got them from Cairns to Tasmania and to be honest it's a really big country and 30 is not a lot of machines but we're expectationally proud of that."

Homeless support service Rosies Ipswich branch coordinator Barry Rienecker said the group supplied toiletry packs, including sanitary items, to those who needed them but the Pink Box program was another way to offer support.

"It will be a great help especially to those people sleeping rough to pay for sanitary items and having 24 hour access will generally make life easier," Mr Rienecker said.

"It will help to make them feel like the general population and human and valued."

Visit www.sharethe dignity.com.au for details, to donate or to help support the charity.



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