Menstruation is a natural part of life. Despite this, many people cannot afford to buy period products and feel embarrassed when they don't have them.
Pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury. People should be able to access them whenever and wherever they need them.
Vending machines containing pads and tampons will be installed at up to 700 public places in Victoria.
These locations will include:
- public hospitals
- staffed train stations
- major cultural institutions like Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
The rollout of vending machines is expected to begin in 2024.
Why is access to period products important?
Menstrual health is an important element of sexual and reproductive health.
A lack of access to appropriate period products can have significant negative impacts across many areas of people’s lives, including physical and mental health, and participating in education, employment and social activities.
Consultation and research
To help this program reach as many people as possible, we are consulting with the community, including:
- local councils
- women’s health services
- Aboriginal community-controlled organisations
- organisations representing:
- multicultural Victorians
- LGBTIQ+ people
- people experiencing poverty or homelessness
- young people
- people with disability.
We also engaged leading researchers to interview people who are likely to access free pads and tampons. This helped us understand the current barriers to access for Victorians.
This found that while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing free menstrual products, many people are supportive of pad and tampon vending machines in public places to help them manage their periods.
Stakeholder Advisory Group
We have established a Stakeholder Advisory Group that will exist for the length of the project. This group will provide the Victorian Government with feedback about how this program can best meet the needs of the community and people accessing free pads and tampons.
This stakeholder advisory group is made up of :
- community health representatives
- menstrual health experts
- women’s health organisations
- peak organisations representing Aboriginal Victorians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, young people, LGBTIQ+ Victorians, and people with disabilities
- community organisations supporting people experiencing poverty and homelessness.
We are developing a detailed evaluation plan to ensure we can make improvements throughout the life of the program and measure its impact.
The two main objectives of this program are to increase access to period products and normalise menstruation.
Undertaking this evaluation will build the evidence base about the effectiveness of providing free menstrual products, as this is the first initiative of its kind in Australia.
We are currently procuring a provider to support us in delivering this project.
Expressions of interest have closed.
Potential providers who were successful in the Expression of Interest stage will be invited to respond to a detailed Request for Tender in late 2023/early 2024.
Other programs supporting free period products
Victoria is proud to be delivering this nation-leading initiative to provide free access to period products through machines in public places. These are some of the other programs in Australia and around the world that support free access.
- City of Melbourne: The City of Melbourne piloted providing free menstrual products from vending machines at Council-owned facilities from September 2021 until June 2023. The facilities included libraries, community centres and public toilets.
- ACT: In June 2023, the ACT passed the Period Products and Facilities (Access) Bill, which will require the Territory Government to provide free period products at designated and accessible places.
- Scotland: Since 2018, Scotland has led the way in providing free period products to the community. The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021 requires local authorities and education providers to make menstrual products free of charge for anyone who needs to use them.
If you are looking for more information about managing your menstrual cycle, go to the Better Health Channel.
You can also find more information about the Victorian Government’s Free Pads and Tampons in Government Schools program.