Share the Dignity

Roma CWA ladies, Christine Beling, Frankie Kimlin, Peg Riley, Isla Grulke and Shero Tamsyn Sward.

Help out women in need this Christmas.

This November, Share the Dignity is calling on Queenslanders to ensure women and girls spending Christmas in domestic violence refuges, homeless shelters, or living in poverty, receive basic essentials and the gift of love and hope for Christmas through the It’s in the Bag campaign.

Roma volunteers, also known as Sheros, Candice, Tamsyn, and Monique share what this initiative means to them.

“There is a definite need in our community. These bags are lovingly donated by the public and filled with essential items. They will be distributed to women and girls in Roma and surrounding areas who may be experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence or struggling with the cost of living. It is great that Ladbrooks has volunteered to be a collection point in Roma and we are looking forward to helping as many women and girls as possible.”

A new survey has revealed 39 per cent of Australian women are worried about affording Christmas presents this year, with Australian charity, Share the Dignity seeing a steady increase in demand from their charity partners for their annual Christmas appeal, It’s in the Bag.

The initiative is in its ninth year and encourages people to pay it forward by filling a bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, roll-on-deodorant, and period products – as well as optional extras such as lip balm, socks, or a handwritten note.

Bags filled with essentials can be dropped off at Roma’s Ladbrook’s Butchery until Sunday, 26 November.

In Australia, an estimated 2.7 million Australian women had experienced family or domestic violence, and an estimated 53,974 women were homeless in 2021, according to the most recent ABS stats on personal safety.

Share the Dignity’s recent survey of 3648 Australian women found living without basic essentials was a widespread issue with 18 per cent going without the basic essentials included in It’s in the Bag donations due to cost.

“I decided to join Share the Dignity to help women and girls in our community. I was a young single mum and I can appreciate how important these items are to those women and girls who are struggling in the community,“ Candice said.

For Tamsyn it was the great feeling she got when she gave back to the community.

“I look forward to delivering the bags we collect from the public to the local community organisations and charities that have registered with Share the Dignity,” she said.

Monique talks about the future for Share the Dignity in Roma.

“It has been great to see the enthusiasm in the community for helping those who are struggling. We look forward to building ongoing momentum for this charity and the drives into 2024,” she said.

Alanah Ladbrook from Roma’s Ladbrooks Butchery talks about their involvement in this cause.

“We were more than happy to be involved and help out wherever we could… I know through being a teacher that there is so many, not only girls, but men and boys affected by [domestic violence]. It is providing something for those people who are in an awful situation.”

While the number of people affected by the rising cost of living is concerning, Share the Dignity founder and managing director, Rochelle Courtenay said she was hopeful donations would increase after being significantly impacted over the past three years.

“Each year thousands of women and girls are waking up on Christmas morning in domestic violence refuges and homeless shelters. For many, an It’s in the Bag might be the only gift they receive for Christmas… For the past three years, we have received on average 30,000 fewer bags compared to pre-Covid numbers. It breaks my heart to think 30,000 vulnerable women and girls aren’t receiving an It’s in the Bag donation and are instead going without basic essentials like period products, a toothbrush and soap.

“For those who can afford to give, I urge you to put an It’s in the Bag together this year. You never know who in your life could be experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, or be struggling to make ends meet, so please help a woman in need this Christmas.

“This year we are expecting to receive 140,000 charity requests and I truly hope we can meet these requests to ensure women and girls in need wake up on Christmas to receive a handbag full of hope and love” Ms Courtenay said.

Kim Hamson knows firsthand the impact an It’s in the Bag donation can have, having received a bag after fleeing domestic violence with her daughter with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“When fleeing domestic violence, by the time you’ve fled you are on rock bottom, you have no self-worth, you have no hope, you have nothing. Your soul is gone. So for a bag to arrive on Christmas, when it is the only gift you might receive, it is life-changing,” Ms Hamson said.

“To this day I still use the same brand of shampoo that was in the bag. The smell makes me feel safe, reminds me how lucky I was that day to receive the bag, and reminds me that there is hope.

“When you put together a bag you will change someone’s life for a month, for a year, for the rest of their life, because that bag gives you hope when you don’t feel like you are worth anything.”

Share the Dignity Queensland Volunteer Team Leader Courtney Klinkosz said she hoped to see more Queenslanders rally behind the cause to help vulnerable women and girls in need.

“We’re expecting to receive more than 40,000 requests from charities in Queensland this year.

For women and girls experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or poverty this might be the only gift they receive this Christmas. That’s why I am urging Queenslanders to give the gift of dignity this Christmas by lovingly donating an ‘It’s in the Bag’ filled with life’s essentials.” Ms Klinkosz said.