Share the Dignity Mildura members Emily Bowen, Zoey Andrews and Kim Long are encouraging residents to support the group’s April Dignity Drive, which aims to provide basic essentials for women and girls in crisis by donating personal hygiene products. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

SUNRAYSIA residents are being urged to ‘Share the Dignity’ this April and aid Sunraysia-based women experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Local members of the Share the Dignity group are calling on residents to provide “the basic essentials for women and girls in crisis” by donating personal hygiene products as part of the ‘April Dignity Drive’.

Ten women make up Mildura’s Share the Dignity group, with members Zoey Andrews, Kim Long and Emily Bowen catching up with the Mildura Weekly this week.

“This is our first collection for 2018, with every item donated to be distributed to local women in need,” Zoey said.

According to figures released by Share the Dignity, one in 200 people are homeless in Australia on any given night, with 44 percent of those being women, and 27 percent being children under 18.

Family violence is regarded as the number one reason people present to homeless services, including 55 percent of women.

And with Mildura’s rate of family violence incidents per 100,000 population currently the second worst in Victoria, it’s an issue that is very much facing our region.

“A lot of the time when these women are leaving their homes because of domestic violence they’re not thinking about things like personal hygiene products, or even have the funds to afford those things that a lot of us take for granted,” Zoey said.

Share the Dignity founder, Rochelle Courtenay, said the organisation helps, in some small way, alleviate “the undignified situations” that thousands of women across the country have to endure.

“So many women, every month, have to forfeit sanitary products because they cannot afford them,” she said. “Many mothers have to choose between buying tampons and feeding their children.

“Girls miss out on school simply because families cannot afford to buy the basics of necessities.”

Emily said local collections were starting to ramp up, with a number of public collection points available.

“People can donate to public collection points at Terry White Chemist Deakin Avenue and Red Cliffs, Australian Hearing and the Department of Health and Human Services,” she said.

“Several internal collection points have also been established at various local businesses, with people encouraged to look for the Pink Collection Boxes.”

Kim said that every item donated would help make a difference, and encouraged locals to support the cause.

More information about Sunraysia’s April Dignity Drive collection is available by contacting Zoey on 0452 403 160, with more about Share the Dignity available online at www.sharethedignity.com.au.