Hygiene Poverty In Australian Schools

The Hidden Crisis….

Hygiene poverty is emerging as a significant crisis not just for low-income countries, but also high-income OECD countries in the wake of significant inflationary conditions and the impact of the pandemic. Concerningly, evidence suggests that the crisis predates these events, given the steady and significant demand for hygiene products from peak hygiene charities. Understanding the complex issue of hygiene poverty is essential, to establish a critical evidence base to inform proactive policy. Moreover, understanding the implications of hygiene poverty given the dual threats of inflation and the pandemic is equally critical to formulating a viable policy response.

The issues arising from hygiene poverty have significant implications beyond core hygiene issues alone and may give rise to mental harm consequences and may impede or preclude participation in basic activities. There is evidence suggesting a strong association between hygiene and entering into the workforce, and subsequent job attainment. Similarly, and equally concerningly there is evidence suggesting that learner participation in a classroom setting, co-curricular activities and social activities may be impacted by hygiene poverty. This assertion is a particular source of consternation and in part the impetus behind this broad study of hygiene poverty. Little is known about the impact of hygiene poverty in early education, on future learner participation in education.

To date, there appears to be a genuine shortage of research that informs policy debate discussion pertaining to these issues. The present report is commissioned and broadly disseminated with the goal of informing further discussion pertaining to the needs of those facing hygiene poverty.