A North Regional TAFE staff member who was instrumental in the installation of a sanitary product vending machine on campus has empowered Indigenous women to overcome period poverty. TAFE Aboriginal training services manager Ulanda Gregory has made it her mission to ensure period stigma and a lack of resources does not hinder the opportunity for women across the Kimberley to gain an education. While working as part of TAFE’s young adults re-engagement program, Ms Gregory said she noticed a trend in Indigenous female students not coming to class once a month as a result of not having access to sanitary products to deal with their period. “Every month or so I would see attendance drop off and students would make up other excuses to hide it,” she said. “It was a combination of the stigma of shame around having their period, and lacking the money to purchase sanitary products.” Ms Gregory said she held a group session with students, where professionals talked about the female anatomy and brought in sanitary products for them to use. “I had to approach the issue in a way that would ensure they didn’t feel any embarrassment or shame.” Having applied for sanitary product donations from Share the Dignity each year, the national charity reached out to Ms Gregory to inform her about their PinkBox dignity vending machine initiative, which dispensed free sanitary products at the push of a button. Interested in the idea, Ms Gregory initiated a business case study which involved 12 months of data collection, about how many Aboriginal women in Broome and surrounding remote communities could potentially access and benefit from the vending machine. After receiving approval, the vending machine was installed in the female toilet block next to the Lime Leaf Cafe where students and visitors can now access the free boxes. Ms Gregory said more than 300 dignity boxes had been used since the machine’s installation in April. “It has been really good, the younger students have been using it more and I think the word is really starting to spread,” she said. Broome Senior High School also has a vending machine installed, and TAFE plans to install the service at the Pundulmurra Port Hedland campus too.