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Grace collaborates with researchers to support fight against period poverty

30 August, 2022

UWA McCusker Centre for Citizenship student Grace de Chaneet has collaborated with UWA researchers and public health professionals on a valuable initiative led by Dr Katrina Stratton MLA, Member for Nedlands, to provide free menstrual products in all WA state schools.

Grace, who moved to Perth from Bunbury to pursue her UWA Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Population Health alongside a Diploma of Modern Languages in French, was matched with the project through an internship at UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship.

Grace’s project saw her undertake intensive research and develop a project proposal to tackle period poverty in WA.

“WA was the only Australian state without intentions of introducing a free provision program and my research and recommendations went on to inform Dr Katrina Stratton to help put it on the State Government agenda,” said Grace.

When Grace found the existing research into public health initiatives that assess practical interventions to period poverty to be lacking, she turned to UWA academics for their expertise.

“I used my UWA network to connect with key stakeholders and experts in the field. Dr Dani Barrington is a menstrual health and hygiene management expert and lectured me earlier in my degree. I reached out to her and she connected me with her colleague, Dr Julie Hennegan, and our stakeholder charity’s founder, Rochelle Courtenay of Share the Dignity,” said Grace.

“Dani was a founding board member of the charity and is passionate about research on the menstrual experience and seeing a holistic approach to address period poverty. I met with Rochelle Courtenay via Zoom and arranged for her to come to WA and meaningfully engage with the Department of Education with Dr Katrina Stratton as an ally,” she said.

“Engaging with these stakeholders pushed me to create a reputable, evidence-based review and plan that reflected the true spectrum of menstrual experience,” said Grace.

Grace’s internship supervisor, Research Officer Francesca Nardi-Spencer, said Dr Katrina Stratton’s team was thankful for her support.

“Grace has been an asset to our office environment and continuously completed tasks to a high level. We wish Grace every success in the future and thank her for all her advocacy thus far,” said Francesca.

Those involved with the project welcomed the news on the weekend by Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery that all public high schools are to be provided with free period products.

The internship experience has ignited Grace’s passion for public health, showing her the potential of policymaking in creating change. She hopes to pursue this path after graduation.

“The McCusker Centre for Citizenship allowed me to engage in a project that addressed the sociocultural and economic aspects of health, a concept that is becoming more and more important in population health interventions today,” said Grace.

“I would highly recommend a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship for students that want professional experience with a difference,” she says.