Ms WELLS (Lilley) (19:40): In public hospitals across Australia patients have free access to bandaids, bandages, painkillers and incontinence pads. But what most Australians may not know is that there is no guarantee that you will have access to period products in hospitals if you need them. While some hospitals provide period products, it's not mandatory. This variation leads to limited availability and forces patients to rely on their family, if they have them, to bring pads when they visit or on the kindness of doctors, nurses and staff to give pads of their own.
Periods are not a choice. When you're in hospital already feeling sick, stressed and vulnerable, the last thing on your mind should be trying to work out how to source a pad or tampon. Pads should be freely and easily accessible in all hospitals for patients who need them.
Tonight I rise to table Share the Dignity's petition, signed by over 53,000 Australians, Pad Up Public Health.
Share the Dignity has listened to thousands of harrowing stories from Australians who have been stuck in hospital with their period without access to period products. Jennifer gave birth at the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital last year and forgot to pack pads in her hospital bag. After being told by her midwife that the hospital didn't have any pads, Jennifer had to send her husband to the chemist to buy some for her. Sue went to the ER with her period, and when she asked for a pad all they could give her was an incontinence pad. Tammy was having a miscarriage in the emergency department and all she was given were three paper towels from a toilet to use. Other women shared stories of having been forced to bleed through their hospital gowns. This petition calls on the House to implement a federal policy mandating the provision of free pads upon request to all patients being cared for in public hospitals nationally.
Women's and girls' ability to safely manage their menstrual hygiene is associated with basic human rights including non-discrimination, access to education and participation in public and professional life. This policy is in line with global movements acknowledging menstrual hygiene as a fundamental human right and a critical link in achieving gender equality. I would like to thank the founder of Share the Dignity, Rochelle Courtenay, and her team for their tireless advocacy in this space and their ongoing fight to end period poverty. I would also like to thank Brisbane icon, Christian Hull, and the Brisbane Broncos for their support for Share the Dignity, particularly recently at St Patrick's College in Shorncliffe in my electorate of Lilley.
Finally, and differently, on behalf of my constituents who rely upon Medicare and Queensland's public health system, I unreservedly and wholeheartedly condemn the Morrison government for their disgraceful cut to Queensland's health funding last night. Squirrelled away on page 19 of the third budget paper is a $20 million cut to Queensland Health funding this financial year. You would think that as we enter the third year of a global pandemic the Morrison government would see the value in investing in health care, but, no, they have cut Queensland Health's budget for the next financial year. The next time a member of the LNP comes to this place or to the state parliament to complain about ramping or about the shortage of hospital beds or about surgery wait queues, please remember this budget cut. It demonstrates yet again that the coalition cannot be trusted with Medicare or with our health, and they cannot be trusted to govern.