Victorian election 2022: Dan Andrews’ $23m pledge to hand out free tampons slammed by charity

EXCLUSIVE: Dan Andrews’ $23m election pledge to hand out free tampons is slammed by charity founder who spent eight years begging him for help – only to be denied a shout out when he STOLE her idea

  • Victorian premier is pledging millions in freebies in his election campaign
  • Labor expected to win another term but Mr Andrews not taking any chances
  • About $282.7 million in freebies spruiked on the premier’s Twitter last week
  • Of that, $23million was pledged to provide free tampons to struggling women
  • Charity founder Donna Stolzenberg has revealed Premier’s cruel rejection 
  • Ms Stolzenberg has been handing out tampons for free for near on a decade 

A charity stalwart has been snubbed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews after making a $23million election pledge off the back of her volunteer work. 

Founder and director of the Melbourne Period Project Donna Stolzenberg has revealed Mr Andrews refused to give her charity a ‘shout out’ after asking her to back his election promise to provide free tampons to women in need. 

Ms Stolzenberg, who was nominated for last year’s Victorian Australian of the Year, has spent the past eight years, with the help of volunteers, toiling on the streets of Melbourne helping to distribute tampons. 

Melbourne Period Project Donna Stolzenberg and Australian of the Year Grace Tame

Melbourne Period Project Donna Stolzenberg and Australian of the Year Grace Tame 

Melbourne Period Project Donna Stolzenberg's helpers have been providing tampons to struggling Victorians for near on a decade

Melbourne Period Project Donna Stolzenberg’s helpers have been providing tampons to struggling Victorians for near on a decade 

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and his wife Catherine leave a press conference last week. Mr Andrews has been accused of snubbing the charity he based his election promise on emulating

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and his wife Catherine leave a press conference last week. Mr Andrews has been accused of snubbing the charity he based his election promise on emulating 

While Ms Stolzenberg applauded Mr Andrews’ pledge to finally help women in need, she took to social media on Friday to provide an ugly insight into the Premier’s quest for recognition. 

‘On the morning of this announcement we were contacted by Premier Dan Andrews’ office and asked if we could make a statement about the announcement and how important it is that we support people experiencing period poverty. Of course we said yes and Glenn Stolzenberg did a piece to camera for Channel 7 news,’ she stated.

It is incredibly disappointing, hurtful and insulting for Premier Andrew’s to claim providing free pads and tampons as his own idea 

‘We only asked for one small favour in return, and that was to have the incredible work of the charity mentioned so we could share it amongst our group by way of saying “thank you,” to everyone who has volunteered, donated or done anything in any way to help people experiencing period poverty.

‘We were told, “No.” The press release was already signed off, they said, and couldn’t be altered. But they would try to give us a mention another time. That never happened.’

The response came as a cruel slap in the face to Ms Stolzenberg and her loyal band of volunteers, who have quietly operated on the back of kindness throughout most of the premier’s reign. 

‘Free pads and tampons in public places is something we have been advocating on for eight years now. Pretty much the same length of time as Dan Andrews has been premier of Victoria,’ Ms Stolzenberg told her followers. 

‘During those eight years we at National Homeless Collective and Melbourne Period Project have relied on thousands and thousands of hours of volunteer help and raised over $2m to purchase and deliver sanitary items to all Victorians experiencing period poverty.’

The Melbourne Period Project has run off the back of donations and hard working volunteers

The Melbourne Period Project has run off the back of donations and hard working volunteers 

Donna Stolzenberg asked the Premier to recognise the hard work of her volunteers. Her request was refused

Donna Stolzenberg asked the Premier to recognise the hard work of her volunteers. Her request was refused

Under the Premier’s election promise, the government will place dispensers in about 700 public sites.

These would include public hospitals, courts, TAFEs, public libraries, train stations and major cultural institutions like the State Library of Victoria and the Melbourne Museum.

Mr Andrews said a hope of the plan would be to ‘provide basic dignity’ for women who can’t access or afford period products.

‘Pads and tampons aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity – and women should be able to get them wherever they are,’ he said.

‘We’re making them more readily available, and we’re saving women money, too.

‘Having access to pads and tampons during mensuration is about providing basic dignity. It breaks down the taboo and shame of periods and provides women with cost of living relief.’

Pads and tampons have been free at Victorian public schools since the beginning of 2022.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to acknowledge the hard work of volunteers despite them backing his election pledge

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to acknowledge the hard work of volunteers despite them backing his election pledge 

Donna Stolzenberg has called out Premier Daniel Andrews for his nasty snub

Donna Stolzenberg has called out Premier Daniel Andrews for his nasty snub 

Ms Stolzenberg – a self-confessed lifelong Labor voter – said her public statement had nothing to do with cheap election pot shots. 

‘This is about the absolute disappointment we feel to have the past eight years of work and effort we have done ignored.

‘Dan Andrew’s knows all about NHC and the work we do, and he knows that we have been supporting Victorians experiencing period poverty for the past eight years. He knows this because I was awarded 2021 Victorian of the Year and the nomination was partly because of the help and support we provide to Victorians needing support with period products especially during the covid lockdown,’ she stated. 

‘It is incredibly disappointing, hurtful and insulting for Premier Andrew’s to claim providing free pads and tampons as his own idea, and not acknowledge even once, the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and the years of support we have given Victorians in desperate need of support.’

Ms Stolzenberg said Mr Andrews had refused to meet her even after being honoured with the 2021 Victorian of the Year title.

‘I was told, “No. he is too busy.” Ok I get it, we’re all busy, but that was over two years ago now and still no meeting. I have absolutely no idea why Premier Andrew’s refuses to meet with me, but, refuse he does. It is what it is,’ she stated. 

Ms Stolzenberg said when Fiona Patten MP introduced the Melbourne Period Project to Victorian parliament seven years ago and it was the first time the words ‘menstruation’ and ‘tampon’ had ever been recorded on Hansard.

‘So, while I do applaud Premier Andrew’s for his stance on eradicating period poverty, at the same time I am appalled and disappointed that Mr Andrew’s has claimed the idea as his own, and in doing so has ignored our thousands of hours work from hundreds of volunteers and the over $2m we have raised to make sure no one suffered the indignity of period poverty.

‘We were here already,’ she stated. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Andrews for comment.  

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews greets his supporter while standing with is family during the 2022 Victorian state election campaign launch in Melbourne, Sunday, November 13, 2022

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews greets his supporter while standing with is family during the 2022 Victorian state election campaign launch in Melbourne, Sunday, November 13, 2022

Daniel Andrews is showering Victorians with freebies as he tries to shore up victory in the upcoming Victorian election, including giving apprentices free car registration

Daniel Andrews is showering Victorians with freebies as he tries to shore up victory in the upcoming Victorian election, including giving apprentices free car registration

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