Page 3071 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.23): As shadow health minister, I am pleased to contribute to this discussion about the challenges for women in workplaces associated with reproductive health matters. The Canberra Liberals believe that women in the paid workforce should be supported to manage their menstruation, menopause and issues associated with reproductive health.

For most women these are intensely private issues, but they are also very real and often very traumatic. Women need to feel that they can discuss this with their employer, if they choose to or need to. The Canberra Liberals would also hope to see that this support is extended to our girls, to our female students, at school. It is particularly difficult as they manage their periods at a challenging and really confronting time. I am sure our schools and teachers do a terrific job supporting our teenage girls, and our younger girls too, as they face these issues.

I was interested to note an ABC report on 4 May this year which referred to new research showing that women’s and girls’ periods cause a range of adverse personal impacts, with shame and stigma exacerbating the burden that they can feel. The University of Western Australia contributed to this research, compiling data from more than 10,000 people from both high and low income countries. The lead researcher, Dani Barrington, said that social stigma was a huge barrier to menstrual health. Dr Barrington said:

This stigma, it’s all-encompassing around the world, and it’s having really negative impacts ….

It is interesting to note that this academic identified the key to change as people talking honestly about menstruation and, as we have discussed, menopause and reproductive challenges. She said that open conversations could foster more menstruation-friendly environments, especially in workplaces. Dr Barrington added:

We need to try not to be embarrassed to talk about it.

She said:

It’s about creating an environment where women who have periods feel they can leave when they need to … making sure they have facilities, that they can leave meetings if they need to because they’ve had an event where they desperately need to get to a bathroom.

The Canberra Liberals do not oppose this motion. We support women in the workplace as they manage menstruation, menopause and reproductive health issues, while maintaining their commitment to their work and their employer.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (3.25): I am pleased to talk to this motion today and to recognise Ms Orr’s continued advocacy for equitable access to menstrual products in the ACT.

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