GREAT CAUSE: Julie Unwin is the team leader for Share the Dignity in Warwick and encourages anyone with the means to do so to donate to the campaign, It's In The Bag.
GREAT CAUSE: Julie Unwin is the team leader for Share the Dignity in Warwick and encourages anyone with the means to do so to donate to the campaign, It's In The Bag. Elyse Wurm

Young girls miss school because they can't afford vital item

HOMELESSNESS in Warwick may not look like it does on television but, as a tutor Julie Unwin has seen firsthand, a lack of financial support can have serious effects on young women in our town.

Mrs Unwin was devastated to learn one of her high students missed school during her menstrual cycle because she could not afford the sanitary pads and tampons so many people take for granted.

"High school is difficult enough without using toilet paper or a sock (during your period)," she said.

"You're missing out on schooling ... you get behind on assessments and grades start to go down, teachers will offer support but then the mental health and anxiety kicks in," she said.

Mrs Unwin said students not only struggled academically when they missed school, they also withdrew from the social interaction.

With the community hit hard by the drought, Mrs Unwin said it was not a stretch to see sanitary items could be considered a "luxury" by rural women around Warwick when money was tight.

"But it's a right, not a luxury," she said.

That's why in August she was inspired to act, conducting a collection for Share the Dignity.

A "village" of support got behind the cause through her tutoring business, Julie Unwin Tutoring, and now they're gearing up again for the It's In The Bag Campaign.

Running from now until December 2, the drive helps support young girls and women who are unable to afford basic sanitary items.

Community members are encouraged to fill a handbag with such hygiene essentials as tampons, shampoo and deodorant but people can also include extra gifts, like movie tickets, nail polish or jewellery.

Mrs Unwin said the drive helped spread the word to help those struggling and she had been overwhelmed by the growing "village" showing support.

Bag donations can be made at Bunnings Warehouse, but many businesses around Warwick have shown their support.

Bluebird Kitchen will run a special event on November 25 for the cause, with an auction and canapes.

For more information visit Bluebird Kitchen on Facebook and sharethedignity.com.au.



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