#23 – Rochelle Courtenay: Sharing the Dignity in Australia

So, I know it’s been a while since I last released an episode. There’s been a lot of changes in my personal life and I just needed some time to refocus. I’m now located back in Singapore and heading up Community and Operations for muru-D which is a Telstra backed accelerator program. I’m excited to begin this new chapter of my journey discovering different ways of creating impact and am really looking forward to working with startups earlier on in their journeys and seeing how impact can be a part of their stories too. So, watch this space, I’ll let you know how it all goes!

Back to this episode... This episode was actually recorded a few weeks ago and it’s been one that I’ve been most excited about. It’s a little bit different because we recorded it at a cafe. It was a little bit of an experiment for me to see how things went with the audio. Anyway, now that you’ve got that background, let’s talk about Rochelle. She started Share the Dignity after reading an article about women and girls in Australia who didn’t have access to sanitary products. She decided to collect pads and tampons, and as a personal trainer, asked her clients to do the same, and so began the incredible movement of Share the Dignity.  So I’ve been following the work of Rochelle and Share the Dignity for quite a few years now and honestly after doing this interview, I’m even more of a fan. Rochelle blows me away with her sheer motivation, determination and absolute passion for the work that she’s doing. It’s not often that you meet people like that who are just so passionate about the work that they’re doing that it’s infectious. I think that’s part of the secret to Share the Dignity’s success. In its simplest form, Share the Dignity gives tampons and pads to vulnerable women and girls. You often hear stories about developing countries and how sanitary products are unaffordable and inaccessible that you forget that this is the case in places like Australia too. With pads and tampons generally being quite expensive and with an added luxury tax, which Rochelle and I briefly discuss in this episode, there are women and girls in places like Australia who are using paper towels or newspapers or whatever they can find to create makeshift sanitary pads. What I love so much about Share the Dignity is that they aren’t just another non-profit too. They work with other organisations on plugging in the gaps and not duplicating work or competing for funding, which I’m sure you would have heard me say is one of my pet peeves about non-profits in general.

I know this episode is probably going to be uncomfortable for a lot of people as menstruation is still considered a taboo topic. However, I encourage you to listen to this episode, understand the work that Rochelle is doing and why it’s so important for everyone. And when you’ve done that, I’d love you to share this episode with someone who you think would benefit from hearing these issues. In particular, with men and boys. Because this is something that is a societal issue. Not just a female one. This episode is also more than just about periods and sanitary products. Share the Dignity’s work has expanded to work on issues that are currently underserved in communities. They now look at maternity pads too. Because if you’re mum that’s struggling, let’s inject a bit of dignity back into your life so that you don’t have to go without. They provide incontinence pads. They pay for funerals for low income women who have been murdered by their partners in domestic violence incidents. Because even though it’s too late for these women, at least in death they have some dignity. 

I was really deeply impacted by my chat with Rochelle so I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about her work!

If you like what you’re hearing please make sure you subscribe, rate & review the podcast. And, we all know that awareness is the first step to creating change so, don’t forget to share your favourite episode with your friends too! 

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“Kindness is free. Sprinkle that shit everywhere” – Rochelle [1:01:01]

People/ items mentioned in this episode:

 

Get in contact with Rochelle by Email. You can also find out more about Share the Dignity on their website or follow them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram .

 

Show notes

  • What is Share the Dignity? [06:50]
  • “When we first started we had no idea what we were doing” [9:50]
  • “We estimate that every handbag that was donated had about a $50 value. That means that Australian women gave about $6 million to help a sister out.” [18:30]
  • “85,000 women used homeless services last year... One of the fastest growing [demographics] of homeless people is women over 50. I met a woman at a Homeless Connect event and she was using baby nappies because they were cheaper than incontinence pads. That broke my heart and I had one of those ‘Oh my god.. I’ve never thought of that… I was again, embarrassed.’” [24:40]
  • Rochelle talks about the issue of girls missing school in Australia because they can’t afford pads or tampons. [34:50]
  • Rochelle tells us how Share the Dignity finds partners [41:20]
  • “Most charities have good hearts but not good business sense” [50:00]
  • Three Things [56:20]
  • How can you get involved? [58:50]
  • “The power of the voice is probably the most important thing that people can do” [59:15]

 

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Let me know in the comments!