Aboriginal affairs

WA campaign provides essentials for homeless women

Tens of thousands of sanitary products are donated to homeless and at-risk women across WA each year because of the efforts of Perth woman Lenny Jacoby and her Essentials for Women campaign.

The products include underwear, toiletries and other sanitary items which can dramatically improve the quality of life for homeless and at-risk women.

The campaign, started by Ms Jacoby in 2014, was the first of its kind in Australia, but has since inspired similar efforts across the country.

The essentials are donated at drop-off points around Perth and the South-West, where they are collected and passed on to charities and NGO’s that work with homeless and at-risk women.

Ms Jacoby said the campaign had been so successful because it was something with which every woman could identify.

“We’ve all had that experience of getting our period unexpectedly, [and know] the shame of exiting the toilets with a bit of toilet paper wadded in your undies,” she said.

“[but] imagine doing that every month. Imagine not knowing how you were going to deal with your period. Imagine having only one pair of undies.”

Ms Jacoby said many of the beneficiaries of the campaign were women who had become homeless after fleeing domestic violence.

“Many [women] leave domestic violence situations after years of suffered abuse.” she said.

“They land with literally just the clothes on their backs.”

One NGO that benefits from the campaign is the Nyoongar Outreach Service, which provides help to local and remote Indigenous women who are at-risk or homeless.

Nyoongar Outreach Service policy and business development manager Joy Johnston said Ms Jacoby provided an essential resource.

“To see the smiles and the happy faces of women after getting a bag of toiletries and underwear is a wonderful experience,” Ms Johnston said.

“[They] are always so grateful and appreciate that the donations are practical, smell good and are accessible.

“This is one of those campaigns where the thoughtfulness and generosity of strangers is making life a little bit more pleasant for some of the homeless and at-risk women of Perth.”