Amy Rust and Kelly Peacock from Essentials for Women SA are determined to ensure no girl’s period keeps her from going to school It’s a subject close to our hearts too , but it’s not their first time lending girls and women in need a helping hand.

Back in 2015, the two friends put a callout for donations of period products, with the aim to donate some to local women’s shelters and some of the 2,500-odd homeless and at-risk women in South Australia many of whom often need to decide if their money should be spent on food or pads and tampons.

“When we called homeless shelters and women’s shelters to ask if they’d be open to these donations, we were met with responses from,Yes yes yes,’ to,When can you do it?’ and,We never get those kinds of things’,” Amy told us.

E4WSA Pad Wall

After handing out 10,000 products in that drive, they realised this project couldn’t be a one-off: periods are ongoing, and products to handle them hygienically are essential. They registered as a charity and have continued the work ever since, along with a team of a dozen or so volunteers.

As word of E4WSA spread, they began hearing about a different group of locals in need.School counsellors and teachers were touching base to tell us that some girls weren’t coming to school when they got their period, or they were being given supplies from a teacher’s personal stash.” Armed with this information, Amy and Kelly teamed up with the Department for Education & Child Development to research the schools and regions most in need.

Moxie Donations to E4WSA

They also secured funding from the department to bring their vision to life: a vending machine filled with pads, tampons and other essentials including plenty from Moxie! that students in need could access for free. All they need to do is scan their student ID. No questions asked.

Right now the ingenious vending machines are installed in two schools, with a third in their sights. The feedback from students, Amy says, has been incredibly validating. 

“I'm from one of the high schools and I love this idea!  It’s already saved me the embarrassment of having to ask for a pad at the office,” one girl told them, while another said she’s from a low-income family andthe fact we get this for free is incredible. Thank you!”

“We don’t just want them in the schools with students from low socio-economic backgrounds though,” Amy insists, reminding us of something we often forget: menstrual hygiene products are not a luxury, and should be as freely available as toilet paper. Amen!