While you’re here… help us stay here.

Are you enjoying open access to policy and research published by a broad range of organisations? Please donate today so that we can continue to provide this service.

Report cover

Hygiene poverty in Australian schools: the hidden crisis

Health equity Students Public health Hygiene Australia

Hygiene poverty is emerging as a significant crisis, not just for low-income countries, but also high-income OECD countries - in the wake of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerningly, evidence suggests that the crisis predates the pandemic, 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, 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.

To date, there appears to be a genuine shortage of research that informs policy debate pertaining to these issues. This report was commissioned and disseminated with the goal of informing further discussion about the needs of those facing hygiene poverty. Part A considers the health and wellbeing impact of hygiene poverty. Part B provides one of the first estimates of the extent of hygiene poverty in Australian schools.

Publication Details
License type:
Access Rights Type: