By Marie Trevithick

The 2018 YMCA Youth Parliament is well and truly underway, with Gleneagles Secondary College’s Public Availability of Sanitary Products Bill was passed unanimously in the Legislative Council this afternoon.

Speaking after the bill’s passing, Maya Ghassali said the team are thrilled.

“We’re so immensely proud of ourselves.”

“We were really nervous at the start, and the support of the chamber and the government side was amazing.”

The debate was robust, with impassioned speeches from both sides being delivered.

In her introductory remarks, Alishbah Younus said that the bill is important in order to ensure equality for all women across Victoria.

“This bill provides all women with the right equipment needed.”

Having free access to these products will put Australia on the same path as Scotland, a country that is praised for its efforts and system of free sanitary products.”

She also spoke about the products being labelled as “luxury items”.

“We do not use these items to pamper ourselves, we use them because they are the only way to safely and hygienically deal with our menstruation cycle.”

Ghassali said that all women should be able to access these products, especially homeless women.

“Their lack of financial stability forces them to use rags, socks, clothing or even newspapers and cotton balls to manage their periods.”

“No female should ever have to choose between purchasing lunch or buying sanitary products.”

Indigo Donohoo, representing Newhaven College, said the opposition agreed that having sanitary products freely available is “long overdue”, but that a regulatory body needed to be in place to oversee the program.

“Perhaps it could come under an umbrella of a new government body dedicated specifically to both the physical and mental health and well-being of women, with specialised clinics serving as a safe space and not only an appropriate dispensary for sanitary products, but also providing counselling and healthcare services,” she said.

The bill passed with two amendments:

The first was concerned with establishing a regulatory body to oversee the distribution of the products, maintaining a registry of people eligible for the program, maintaining confidentiality and governing which buildings will have products available.

The second ensured that schools would be regulated more strictly than other government facilities, where products are only available to enrolled students and staff to prevent un-enrolled persons using school facilities.

Photos to come.

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