July 3, 2017. Nina Lansbury Hall writes in theconversation.com writes about hygiene problems experienced by the indigenous people in remote areas in the “Land Down Under”.
A paper released by the University of Queensland in Brisbane in partnership with WaterAid, entitled ‘Water, sanitation and hygiene in remote Indigenous Australian communities: A scan of priorities’ describes the findings in Hall’s article.
Anecdotal evidences gathered from various interviews by the UQ research team reveal that girls in remote areas of Australia. The interviews indicate that women and girls use toilet paper, socks and rags instead of sanitary products that reportedly cost A$10 a pack. Also, they may not buy items if a male relative works for the shop that sold these products. Underwear is also expensive and washing and drying them in a visible place is considered a cultural taboo.
One of the interviewees told the QU research team that the ladies do not want to change in school, because there is no soap and a limited number of garbage bins (there is often no trash cans in the restroom). Usually, the bins are located outside the toilets which the women found really embarrassing to use. The interviewee also stated that infrastructure-wise, more bins, soaps in the bathroom, working toilets and privacy should be of utmost priority.
The research team also found that local health services have limited capacity to respond to these challenges due to focus on ‘higher-priority’ diseases in the community such as diabetes and rheumatic heart disease. Non-functioning toilets and faucets as a result of low-quality materials, lack of maintenance and overcrowding in homes also worsen the situation.
Committing to the goals of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (in which the country is a signatory), the Australian government has devised programs to address these problems. The Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service has created a toolkit in developing more ‘girl friendly’ spaces that include access to privacy, toilet paper, running water and informed staff who are conscious of the problems. The organization works with clinics, local youth programs and schools to ensure dissemination of information and access to pads, underwear and trash bins. New South Wales’ Housing for Health program has repaired restrooms, showers and faucets in over 3,500 homes to support good hygiene and healthy living practices.
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has also partnered with the state government to provide water and sewerage infrastructure operation and maintenance to 61 communities with a A$250 million allocation in 25 years. The Queensland government is also building new homes and upgrading other in 34 remote communities.
It is our dream here at BUPeriod to live in a world where all women have equal and unlimited access to hygiene products and information about their health and bodily changes, and a venue to talk about their personal experiences without judgment. It is our fervent hope that someday, our stories will no longer be shrouded in the dark, but will be openly discussed in safe environment and be key in finding effective solutions that are sustainable and attainable by all.- BUPeriod.
Read more about Nina Lansbury Hall’s article here.
By: Marijun Jam Villarino Sy
Chief Finance Officer BUPeriod