by Jessica McGrath
19 October, 2020
“Ladies, if you opened your draw and there were no bras to wear would you be able to leave home?”
This is the reality many Australian women face every day according to Support The Girls CEO Jane Holmes.
“We live in a beautiful country and yet women cannot afford bras,” she said.
“Many of us take it for granted, it’s astounding that we have women who can’t afford them.”
Women experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, poverty or a tight budget due to old age or the crippling drought often do not have the funds to buy new bras, underwear or even sufficient sanitary products.
Ms Holmes and her team visit different towns to give these women a chance to receive five to six new bras, new underwear and a toiletry pack each.
“They come along to the event and get their bras professionally fitted,” she said.
Support The Girls are taking a road trip through the Burnett, holding bra gifting events along the way.
They participated in the Mental Health Week program at Cherbourg yesterday, before heading to the Mundubbera Community Centre today.
A bra gifting event will be held the following day at the Monto Community Centre on the 16th.
One of the most important aspects of these events are the conversations held while the ladies wait to be fitted for a bra.
“For someone who is socially isolated the event is an avenue for some time out,” Ms Holmes said.
“Engaging with the conversation is just an amazing experience to stop and talk to somebody.”
“It is taking the time to listen and the small gift that has a huge impact.
“When they walk out they are not only empowered with items like some beautiful bras, but it changes lives,” she said.
“They come out of the fitting room with their head held high.”
Even though there is some support for women experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, there are many ladies who fall in the ‘grey area’ with no support.
Support The Girls have met and heard the stories from many of these women, often those who are widowed or divorced.
“Women are extremely proud, but do not speak up to say they are struggling,” Ms Holmes said.
“They are so socially isolated, but they’d never speak of these struggles to their friends as they are too humble.”
Ladies living in rural areas are often socially isolated and the drought has made budgets even tighter.
Ms Holmes said many farming ladies they had met needed bigger bra sizes which were more expensive than the more common bra sizes.
“Stories about mums on farms who can’t afford to have sanitary products for their daughters,” she said.
Giving these families access to the daughter’s first bra or sanitary products goes a long way.
“It’s such a small thing and the impact is enormous, it’s a wonderful thing to do,” she said.
The recent health pandemic has put extra pressure on especially rural women who have spent years in drought conditions.
“There’s a lot of isolated women, especially in the rural community there’s a sense of you’re supposed to be fine,” Ms Holmes said.
“Covid has exacerbated the idea that nobody cares.
“Suddenly Covid comes out and there’s funding for Covid, what happened for the last four years of drought?”
This is why Ms Holmes is thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Burnett region and show these women they are not alone.
“Listening to those stories, women empower each other,” she said.
“It’s a simple concept, but the impact is fabulous.”
Ladies will need to contact their local community centres to register their interest as spaces are limited.