Page 3065 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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(h) the initiatives of the Period Products and Facilities (Access) Bill 2022 would be complimented by the development of workplace policies and conditions that enable workers to manage their menstruation as well as all reproductive health matters and at the same time complete their work commitments; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) develop, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, a Menstruation and Menopause Policy for the ACT Public Service that enables employees to meet their work commitments and manage the impacts of menstruation and menopause in the workplace;

(b) develop, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, an education and awareness campaign to reduce the stigma of reproductive health matters in the workplace and support the Menstruation and Menopause Policy;

(c) prepare a report to the Legislative Assembly which advises how menstruation and menopause leave could be implemented within the ACT Public Service;

(d) consider ways existing provisions could be further enhanced to support other reproductive health needs such as fertility care, pregnancy, post-partum health complications, miscarriage, and termination of pregnancy; and

(e) provide the report in part (2)(c) to the Legislative Assembly by May 2023 together with a report on the progression of parts (2)(a) and (b) and the findings of considerations of part (2)(d).

I am very pleased to move this motion in the Assembly today. Periods have been taboo and stigmatised within our own society and culture and indeed within most, if not all, societies and cultures over the centuries. This has included taboos to do with the discussion of periods, particularly in the presence of, or directly with, men; undertaking certain daily activities; spouses sleeping in different beds in cultures where they would normally sleep together; religious cleansing rituals and even banishment from the community for the duration of menstruation every month.

Although some of these practices still occur in different places around the world and they even occur here, from my perspective the one that is still the most present in our society is the taboo on discussion, particularly in the presence of, or directly with, men. When you do speak up, you are often chastised or ridiculed. But this is a serious matter, with significant social and health impacts, and we need to start responding to it with an openness and a maturity that centuries of shame have prevented.

I attended the Global Period Poverty Forum just this week, organised by Share the Dignity. The event brought together a range of change-makers from across the globe to talk about where we have come from, where we are and where we are going in ending period poverty. At the forum, one of the many pamphlets that was available that you could pick up was a great little book called Sanitary Secrets. The pamphlet was an overview of an exhibition of period product ads over the past 100 years. I commend the work by Dr Jane Connory from Swinburne University which shows how the content and design of these ads has contributed to the harmful norms that society has placed around menstruation.

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