Eradicate period poverty
In Australia we have bought into the sense we live in ‘a lucky country’. Which is why it is astounding we have to fight to get attention on one issue that effects hundreds of thousands of women, right here. In this episode of the Raise 1000 Voices podcast, we throw a spotlight on the fight to eradicate period poverty with Rochelle Courtenay.
Rochelle is the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity, a women’s charity in Australia that aims to make real difference for women doing it tough. Share the Dignity distributes period products to women, girls, and anyone who menstruates. They believe that when someone is in a difficult situation, the last thing they should have to worry about is managing life when they have their period.
Through Rochelle’s advocacy, more women and teenage girls receive the dignity of not having to think about where to get their period products. And it is in recognizing this problem and a growing awareness that this is something most of us take for granted that others can’t afford that has led to legislative change in every state in Australia.
No woman or girl should ever have to miss work or school because of period poverty.
And this inspiring conversation teaches us that we’re more than capable of helping others through the simplest of actions, so make sure you tune in to the episode.
WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE:
- Who is Rochelle Courtenay and what is the dignity that she’s granting (03:58)
- The significant impact of It’s in the Bag Program on women (06:32)
- How did Share the Dignity start? (09:10)
- The moment Rochelle realised Period Poverty was actually a thing (10:59)
- The best advice for female founders of charities (13:05)
- The outcome of knowing period poverty was a real issue (15:22)
- Learnings from having a voice that inspires action (20:12)
- What’s the best way to deal with impostor syndrome syndrome (23:05)
- Who inspires Rochelle and the strong female voices she looks up to (24:42)
- The consequences of sitting in safe spaces (28:02)
- Rochelle’s remarkable bathroom story (31:00)
- An outstanding story that touched her heart (35:45)
- Rapid fire questions with Rochelle (37:59)
- The worst and best piece of advice she got and what she learnt from them (40:20)
“If you give yourself space and if you give yourself rest, you can be the best version of you.” -Rochelle Courtenay
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes aren’t really mistakes, they’re just a way of learning to do things differently.” -Rochelle Courtenay
“Absolutely. The goal of having a charity is to work your way out of being needed.” -Jaqueline Nagle
Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
WHERE TO FIND ROCHELLE COURTENAY
Australia’s Pad Lady determined to end period poverty
Rochelle is the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity. Share the Dignity is a national charity founded in 2015 with the mission to ensure that everyone is afforded the dignity in life that so many of us take for granted. Share the Dignity brings dignity to women, girls and anyone who menstruates who is experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, and period poverty through the distribution of period products. Share the Dignity is powered by volunteers, and through Rochelle’s contagious spirit over 6,000 volunteers have jumped on board to help ‘share the dignity’.
Share the Dignity has donated over 3.8+ million period products through multiple initiatives across Australia. Rochelle has won recognition and accolades for her work including Finalist Australian of the Year, Cosmopolitan Humanitarian of the Year and Pride of Australia.
As well as holding biannual collections for period products nationwide, Rochelle is passionate about advocating for change and creating long-term solutions. Share the Dignity successfully advocated to axe the tax on period products, with the GST on period products being removed in early 2019. Additionally, Share the Dignity has been advocating for free period products in schools for years and since then many states have begun implementing programs.
Most recently, after finding out that patients in Australian hospitals were being denied period products and instead being given diapers, gauze, bed pads and towels Share the Dignity has turned its focus to advocating for pads to be provided to patients for free in Australian public hospitals.
TRANSCRIPTION (Transcriptions are generated using AI)
Rochelle Courtenay (00:00):
Sometimes it’s hard to curb that outrage and that passion into making sure that your voice is heard in a not a derogative way but are how can we fix this way and I could pass anything on to anybody it’d be their voices don’t matter that’s so much about them and not about you. Just do what you need to do and keep shining.
Jacqueline Nagle (00:24):
Raise 1000 voices is the podcast on a mission to raise the voices of the clever, creative and courageous women across the world. I am your host, Jacqueline Nagle. And I invite you to join me in conversations with women, you’ll inspire and empower you as we explore just how to lift our levels of self trust, to reclaim the narrative, and to use our voice to go after exactly what we want. Doing it with strength, power, and grace.
Jacqueline Nagle (00:57):
Welcome to the next conversation in res 1000 voices, where we have a surprising and delightful conversation with Rochelle Courtney, who is the founder and managing director of share the dignity. Now share the dignity for those listeners in Australia is a national charity founded in 2015, with a mission to ensure that everyone is afforded the dignity and life that so many of us take for granted. Share the dignity brings dignity to women and girls and anyone who men straights who is experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and period poverty through the distribution of period products share the dignity is powered by volunteers and through Michelle’s contagious spirit.
Over 6000 volunteers have jumped on board to help share the dignity. Now you can find out all about her and all the places we find out all the things about all the people these days across socials and her website and everything else. But what I wanted to draw your attention to as we wind through this conversation is one is, you know, when Rochelle is described as contagious, she truly is she has a sheer delight and incredible conviction to the power of her work. The second thing is, is that before bumping into the work of share that dignity some years ago, I didn’t know period, poverty was a thing that existed. The fact that it does is something that breaks my heart. But the work that she is doing goes far beyond donations and handbags and drives. She actually is changing legislation having had the GST removed from period products, and also now getting free products into schools and hospitals and universities and places like that.
So her work is extraordinary. But it started simply. And it is still simple. And it shows that the simplest of things that we can conceive can sometimes have the greatest impact. Settling, this is an amazing conversation with a beautiful Rachelle Courtney. So right now I would love to welcome Rochelle Courtney to this next episode of raise 1000 voices, Rochelle, where in the world are you right now.
Rochelle Courtenay (02:54)
I am comfortably sitting in my office in Sandgate Road, Virginia, which is a very new office for us. And it feels so good to not be in my home or another house. And we’ve got like a real office,
Jacqueline Nagle (03:08):
it feels like you’ve become a grown up once you move into the office, doesn’t it? It’s like,
Rochelle Courtenay (03:11):
oh, it’s so it does. Yeah, we call it being at high school. They love that, like us being at Play School. So I’m looking at us getting from crap into grade one. And we’ve always been our analogy of how old what part of our organization is up to we’re in high school now.
Jacqueline Nagle (03:31):
I really love that. I quite often say that we’ve relaunched our business. And so I caught up and say that we’re just in the toddler years right now. It’s kind of like we’ve got our feet and we’re running it everything. Yeah, I will find what works.
Rochelle Courtenay (03:43):
We’re still a toddler, even though we’re a teenager at the same time, though.
Jacqueline Nagle (03:47):
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of adults in our world. That’s more than okay. So you said about, you know, we’re really happy as an organization to have made this move into the offices what I’d really love to actually bring to our audience, for those that don’t know you. And I think if you’re on the eastern states of Australia, you’d almost have to be under a rock. But for those that don’t know, you can tell me a little bit about who Michelle Courtney is what she does, and a bit about the journey to get here.
Rochelle Courtenay (04:12):
Yeah, so Rochelle Courtenay is a mother of two and grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, a boy and a girl. And I founded share the dignity in 2015 which is like another one of my babies. Absolutely, that I’m exceptionally proud of so and share the dignity is a national charity that ensures that everyone is afforded the dignity and life that so many of us take for granted.
Jacqueline Nagle (04:40):
Yeah, and for those who aren’t short share the dignity is what is that dignity that you are granting to people through the work of the charity?
Rochelle Courtenay (04:47):
Yeah, so we are trying to eradicate period poverty here in Australia and we do three collections a year we do a to dignity drives in March and August where you will see collection boxes in all of the Woolworths stores and 1000s of Other businesses and workplaces where we collect period products to then give out to our 3000 Plus charities around Australia. And then we do my favorite, which is it’s in the bag. So it’s our Christmas appeal that asks everyday Australians to fill a handbag with life’s essentials, things like sanitary items, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, so then whatever else you put into your bag is completely up to you. But making sure that there isn’t a woman spending Christmas in a domestic violence shelter that doesn’t receive a gift hands in the form of a handbag, with the basic essentials in it. And you know, it’s so much more than a handbag. But I could talk to you about that for about an hour because that is actually what I’m passionate about. And that’s one of the things
Jacqueline Nagle (05:40):
that I first bumped into the workers share the dignity. So I came across the it’s in the bag drive, and the last couple of years have been a bit quieter, obviously, because of where we’ve been in the world. But the three years before we went into the pandemic, I actually use it as an excuse at Christmas time. And the biggest thing that we did, we actually all turned up at my house. And we had 140 bags that we dropped off to one of your depots. And it was just the whole feeling of everyone.
And it was really interesting as well how over the top, everyone went with what else went into the bag. Yeah. And for anyone who’s actually thinking about at the moment, I mean, I went in to buy sunglasses from a sunglass shop. And he said, I just want to get a couple for a couple of the bags. And he said, What’s this for? And I told him, he goes, I’m the manager, he said, Just take 20 pairs and fill your bags. So also to when you talk to other people about what it is. They fall in love with it as well. So I think that’s why it’s viral. What is it that it does for these women, when they get that gift of that bag at Christmas time?
Rochelle Courtenay (06:37):
It’s like a hug in a handbag. Ah, it’s like saying, and I’ve never ever used those words. But when you just asked me that it is for them when they feel alone, and they haven’t they wouldn’t otherwise get anything. It’s the only Christmas gift they’re going to get. But it’s like a hug in a handbag. But it’s also home. Yeah. And it’s also the thought that they’re not alone. And that some you know, we’d always help a sister out if we could, right. Yeah. And that’s really what it’s in the bag is all about. And that really that’s what giving period products to make sure that a girlfriend doesn’t go without the basic of essentials, right? That’s what it’s all about. Yeah, the dignity is really quite simple in it in what it does.
Jacqueline Nagle (07:15):
Yeah, one of the things I do love as well, and I’m sure that it’s still there, but I was really taken with there was one year we actually introduce having the girls, the bags for teenage girls. And I think we quite often forget about the younger generations that are impacted and living in period poverty and any sort of poverty because period is poverty is a symptom of the rest of the poverty. So what actually prompted you to expand that? Was it recognizing that there were younger girls as well? Or was it? What how did that come about?
Rochelle Courtenay (07:41):
Yeah, we do three different types of bags now. Amazing. So we did originally just start with the female with the women’s bag, and then we extended to a teenage bag. And that was because we were dealing with Child Services. And they were talking about how their young girls did would not have got and I’m not talking about young girls under 12. I’m talking about teenage kids coming through foster systems and right and they’re fleeing domestic violence at that age. But they’re also, you know, coming out of, you know, refuges and stuff like that, and they’re not getting gifts, and they need and want different things in their bag than what a woman does. Yes.
So I think, you know, color it like I read a note yesterday on our Facebook page, where she said both her and her daughter received a bag when they ended up in a D DV shelter. And there were a coloring in books in the teenage bag. And she said, as a mother and daughter, they just sat there coloring in in this piece and safety and nurturing peace that somebody else has had for them like that, to me is so important. Like you just that $2 Coloring Book that somebody gave impacted somebody else’s life so tremendously that they wanted to write to us and tell us I think that’s really beautiful.
Jacqueline Nagle (08:55:)
Rochelle Courtenay (08:57):
You’re giving a bag is a legacy that you get to have that no one will ever take away from you.
Jacqueline Nagle (09:02):
No, absolutely not. The chair, the dignity is actually becoming something that a lot of us are having a language around and we understand your work. It wasn’t always like that. How long ago did you start?
Rochelle Courtenay (09:13):
So 2015 I started share the dignity and I started it I was a personal trainer and I had all of my clients who were you know, women in rigidity, 40s and 50s come to me and get I asked them to bring me a packet of pads or tampons for every wine they had in the month of March 2015.
Jacqueline Nagle (09:33):
That could have been substantial.
Rochelle Courtenay (09:35):
know why they kept coming back to see me they’d never write the amount of wines down in their food diary. But, you know, it’s all about balance life. But anyway, some of them would just give me a bag and go don’t count them just know that I’m donating. So I just knew that early on that there wasn’t and this has been very honest. There wasn’t a woman in Australia. Who wouldn’t be empathetic that another woman was having to use socks on newspaper to deal with her period. Yeah, I was wrong for so many years because now I’ve expanded that to everybody in Australia to men and women, right? I spoke directly to women for about the first five years because I know it was wrong.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned now. But really, it’s not a female issue. It’s society’s issue. This is about men and women being part of the solution because we could eradicate period poverty here in Australia. If we all donated, we all had the conversations we were all part of that will never eradicate poverty will never eradicate domestic violence. But this is something that I believe I will be able to retire because I’ll be redundant. People won’t need me. Yeah, I mean, that’s my goal. Right? That’s the goal of our charity, for sure.
Jacqueline Nagle (10:41):
Yeah, actually, to work your way out of being needed. salutely I love that. So when did you first like you know, you talked then about your personal training clients bought everything for the amount of ones that drained? Yeah, my personal trainers not listening, because I don’t want to do that to me. That when you actually, like that’s obviously you did that. But when did you first become aware of it? When did this seat for you?
Rochelle Courtenay (11:02):
Yes, straightaway. I’m not really a stood on a thing. Same with x in the bag. Literally, it’s in the bag. I was cleaning out my bathroom. I’m going to come back to that if I answer your first question. It was February 2000. It was end of February and 2015. And on March, the first I set up the Facebook page. And in May and we had 450 packets donated in that very first little collection is what we call that. And then in May a friend had asked me who worked ironically at a hospital, where they help people who had fled domestic violence. And she said, Oh, can we get some more pads and tampons from? Is it of course you can. And I did another call that on our Facebook page, and it went viral and Russia no picked it up who was a Melbourne comedian. Again, that project wanted to do a story about it. And ultimately, we went from a collection in my local community to a national collection with Fernwood onboard with coal Terry White chemists onboard coals being participants at that stage. It was making stuff up as we went along and surrounding myself with amazing people. Little did I know that beginning did I need to have a board of directors of constitution, pay fees and permits in every state have insurances set up 1000 processes and all of those sorts of things? And to be really honest, I didn’t do at all I just surrounded myself with amazing people
Jacqueline Nagle (12:26):
with good people. Yeah, absolutely.
Rochelle Courtenay (12:29):
I come from a whole world of having played netball, I played netball or my until I was 50. And I coached netball from the time I was 12. To the time I was 50. So I know that a good team has got to have seven good players and a couple more on reserve. Right. And not one of those players isn’t any more important than the other. It’s about teamwork. I love that. And I think that has been a really big learning curve for me. Like it’s massive to be able to go to take those skills that you get playing sport into your everyday life.
Jacqueline Nagle (13:01):
I’d love to just have a quick side conversation that because there are as you know, there are a lot of young female founded charities that kind of get so far get some attraction and get some conversations going. But really, they’re trying to do it on their own. So it to actually not just to women, but to women and female founders of charities of frontline charities, what would be your number one piece of advice? Would it be that team factor? Would it be?
Rochelle Courtenay (13:27):
Yeah, it is the team, it is the fact that you you can’t do everything. And, you know, I would say even now we’re running on the smell of an oily rag, you know, like you have to respect that somebody’s donated $5 to your charity. And you they’re asking you to use that as wisely as you can. Yeah. But at the beginning, you know, we fund it all ourselves, right? Yeah. So it’s the same scenario. So you can only do so. And I had a full time job. I had two businesses that when I first started, and I had to let one go, which meant I had to let one income stream that was coming into my family go, but that it was so important to me that that that’s what it meant to me, right? Yeah.
But I also worked. So I had to outsource to all of as many tasks as I could to volunteers, and even our board now we’re all still volunteers. Amazing. We’ve got 10 leaders on state team leaders who are still around since the very, very first day, we’ve got 6000 volunteers. I can’t manage them and look after them all on my own. I’ve got 20 staff, I can’t look after them all on my own.
Yeah, it’s about making sure that you get people to do things that they have the skill set and the life that they want to do it. Yeah. If you asked me to spend four hours doing spreadsheets, I would say I’m sorry, I can’t volunteer with you anymore. Yeah, I’m out. You know, so, exit stage, right? Yeah, pick the skills. Listen to at the beginning. I used to know every volunteer and then dog’s name and their kids names because I wanted to know what made them tick and how could I get the best from them? Yeah. And that meant if that I’d like doing spreadsheets then. And that was a big part of what we needed to do. Yeah. Then what other tasks could they do? They were always 100 tasks to do. So yeah, I would say that’s really important. But I also say networking was so pivotal to why we are where we are.
Jacqueline Nagle (15:15):
Yeah, absolutely. So I want to want to back in a moment to you mentioned the bathroom story with the it’s in the bag. But if I can go back right to the start, like you started, it went really fast. Got some great pickups and some great media. When did you actually know this was an issue that period poverty was an issue?
Rochelle Courtenay (15:31):
Yeah, February 2015. When I read an article, so how I had, I read it on Mamma Mia site, but someone had sent it to me. Okay. Somebody had sent it to me and said, Read this.
Jacqueline Nagle (15:44):
Yep. And tell me about that moment. When you read it. What happened for you?
Rochelle Courtenay (15:47):
I remember sitting on my veranda thinking, and I am somebody who suffered severely from endometriosis I had ended up having I think there were 13 operations throughout my life. I had two hysterectomy, one partial hysterectomy, then a full hysterectomy. Two years later, like periods were a massive issue for me. Yeah.
So I couldn’t even have imagined dealing with a period without period products. Yeah, like, I didn’t even think that was a thing. So I was severely embarrassed that I never thought that that would be a thing for somebody. Yeah. I mean, I knew that I wouldn’t have to use a tampon and pad.
And when I was a sales rep and would drive to Gladstone, I’d have to sit on a towel. Because there was no period under us back in those days. So and I wouldn’t pull over the toilet because I was by myself. And I was scared. So, you know, I just, I don’t think shatter dignity would exist if I hadn’t been if periods weren’t such a massive issue in my life. Yeah. But I remember sitting on my veranda at Sean Cliff going, what?
And then when I Googled it, it wasn’t the first article that had ever been read. So I’m like, how do you ever just read that and jog on? Yeah, like, I just don’t understand that. And at that stage, my daughters were 15 and 13. And I just thought I don’t want them reading about something like this in 10 years time, and we haven’t done anything about. Yeah, I
Jacqueline Nagle (17:06):
I love that. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because it’s like literally a split second that the awareness opens and breaks?
Rochelle Courtenay (17:12):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, that first article that I read said that there were 48,000 women who were experiencing homelessness. Yesterday, I saw stats from last year that said 169,000, women turned to homelessness services last Wow.
So the problem keeps escalating. And I thought, Oh, 48,000 women who get there. It’s not like we’re giving them a warm jacket, and it keeps them nothing, or a pair of shoes. It’s a monthly problem. But the problem is so much greater than I ever imagined. And sometimes I feel like going I didn’t sign up for this.
Yeah, because we’ve got drought stricken farming communities, we’ve got flooded events, we’ve got our remote indigenous communities now that I’m something I’m severely passionate about, right? And then we’ve got women now who work who can’t afford their rent, their electricity, their fuel and their food. And so they’re choosing to have to use what about toilet paper to deal with their period, the problem is getting greater and greater in Australia. And whilst our awareness grows, we’re still not collecting enough for what is needed to be able to eradicate it, we will get there.
Jacqueline Nagle (18:21):
How do you feel about that? The problems actually expand like we were Australia, how do you reconcile that we are Australia apparently are lucky country. And yet this problem is getting exponentially bigger. Instead of get becoming something that you feel as though is under control, you get closer to working your way out of a charity. I feel like we’ve
Rochelle Courtenay (18:39):
going in the right direction. So that’s a good point. Right? So if I say to you, we were instrumental in removing the GST on sanitary items tick down, that has a big impact on a quality in itself. Right. So yeah, bringing that price down was only one small factor of removing the GST it was really about equality. And never would We have seen that if we didn’t start to see representation of women around the political table.
Right. So that was really important. But also, now we have fought to have advocate that schools and every state now provide sanitary items. So that’s a piece of funding that we don’t need to take our donations to any more.
So that allows us to take our donations through to those who are living in poverty out so good periods don’t happen just at sch9ool right now, what happens to all of the weeks when they’re not at school and the hours when they’re not at school, we need to be making sure that we can still provide for that, but the fact that we’re able to get the government to take on board, what we’ve been advocating for that no girl should ever miss out on a day of education because a family can’t afford sanitary items. We’ve been able to do that now in every single state. So that’s a massive win for us.
That is huge, which means that our money and the donations can then go to through to help other areas. So while those other areas keep growing, we will keep working with the government to see which is the next point a call where they can come on board and help you Because this shouldn’t be, this is a government issue. Yeah. It’s not a charities issue. No, it’s
I could not agree more when it comes to this journey that you’ve been on, which has been a stellar journey. And really, I think creating the kind of change that we should all crave bribes. So human rights, basic entitlement type change. What have you learned about having a voice that gets attention and inspires action? What have you personally learned about how to grow your voice that way to really command attention and get change?
Oh, that’s a really that’s a really hard one. My voice peace comes from passion. Right. And it comes from out most of the time outrage. Sometimes it’s hard to curb that outrage and that passion into making sure that your voice is heard in a not a derogative way, but are how can we fix this way? And I think that, you know, clearly one of my skills is this is broken, let’s how to fix it. And how do we do it with the least amount of steps? Right? Yeah. Because, and it’s the same as when when I set up anything for our volunteers, it’s like, if it’s not easy and simple, I won’t do it. They won’t do it. Yeah. So yeah. So ultimately, it’s about curving that I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to not respond to something for 72 hours.
Jacqueline Nagle (21:25):
Oh, I love the 72 hour rule. I’ve had that for years. Yeah, yeah, I have to
Rochelle Courtenay (21:30):
because either you’re arguing with an idiot and you’re sound like an idiot. Otherwise, you just have to let some things go through to the keeper. But I do respect that I do now have a voice that people want to hear. Yeah, and ironically, will listen to Yeah. Which is funny, because in my house when I had teenagers no one wanted to listen to.
Jacqueline Nagle (21:50):
I think that’s every mother’s lemon. Yeah, I still find
Rochelle Courtenay (21:54):
that a little bit funny. But yeah, look, I think that that 72 hour rule is, is a massive issue for me. And you know, along the way, there’s massive, tall poppy issues where I’ve been cut down. And that has actually come from other females. Yeah. In other charities, you know, I’ve had to have a lot of therapy to deal with that. Yeah. And sometimes along the way, I’ve wanted to quit, because of other people wanting to pull me down. And I think that’s really sad. And if I could pass anything on to anybody, it’d be their voices don’t matter. That’s so much about them and not about you. Yeah, just do what you need to do and keep shining. Because no matter how, how much, you’ll double your light, they’ll still be trying to take your light from.
Jacqueline Nagle (22:34):
Yeah, we in the work that I’m doing in the last six months that have has pivoted completely to actually just work with women to find their voice to work out how to speak up and to speak out about what matters and to speak their truth. One of the things that we found really interesting is we had to change our programs.
And now the first six, eight weeks we work with women is all about their inner voice. It’s all about it’s actually all about impostor syndrome. It’s all about shedding away these layers of opinions that are coming from other people. So whilst you say let go of that, and I’m glad that you said you know, therapy and all the resources that you pull on to be able to move through that yourself. What’s something that you would say to women who either have impostor syndrome or be, and I’ve been torn to pieces by the tall poppy syndrome. So I know what you’re talking about. Either one of those, what’s your biggest piece of advice for what they can actually do practically to start to shift through that to quiet an imposter syndrome? And to quiet that outer voice from the people trying to tear you down?
Rochelle Courtenay (23:33):
Ah, yeah, well, I did a lot of reading. So Brene Brown, to me is incredible, right? Yeah. But I think just surrounding yourself with people who are on the same head Heart Journey as you is so important, right? Because anyone else just doesn’t matter
Jacqueline Nagle (23:48):
that. Yeah. Yeah. Identify your inner circle.
Rochelle Courtenay (23:51):
Yeah, I don’t know. I wish I could go back and tell my 30 year old self so much more than, you know, all of the things that I know now at 50 I wish and I and I have two daughters. So what I’m saying to them now is what other people think of you has nothing to do with you. It’s really got to do with them and not you. But you know if I think about when does a little girl in a to to stop dwelling around when other pitchers start telling them that she looks stupid doing it? Yeah. Right. So let’s stop doing that to everybody. Everyone. Everybody. If you’ve got nothing nice to say don’t say anything. And she wants to twirl in a tutu at the age of 14 or, or 80. It doesn’t matter. Let him do whatever makes her happy.
Jacqueline Nagle (24:32):
Yeah, I could not agree more. In fact, one of the women is creating a keynote that is about wearing a tutu.
Rochelle Courtenay (24:37):
Jacqueline Nagle (24:38):
Yeah, it’s just like completely thought of her then. So Rachel, a lot of people look up to you and the work that you do and find it incredibly inspiring. Who do you look to for inspiration, who really gets your attention and inspires you and motivates you?
Rochelle Courtenay (24:52):
Oh, you know, I don’t have anyone, particularly but I’m constantly inspired. Add by other volunteers. Yeah. You know, and somebody asked me a question earlier was what are you most proud of I’m so proud of the relationships that I’ve been able to foster through share the dignity about the relationships that other volunteers have been able to foster on Sunday, I went to a birthday party, I’m one of our volunteers who’s in a wheelchair. She’s the most remarkable woman.
And 20 people turned up, they’re all volunteers. And she hadn’t had a birthday party since she was 12 years old. She’d had her 50th birthday party, and that was because of volunteering. Like, to me, that’s an honour to be there. And it’s an honour that she helps us and shares my passion to share the dignity. So, you know, apart from the obvious accent of my daughters, and my, you know, my husband and my fabulous five girlfriends that I’ve known and been best friends with since preschool, I you know, I’m surrounded by amazing women, and none of them are on TV or anything like that. They just yeah, they’re very rarely are everyday women that I get to call my friends.
Jacqueline Nagle (25:58):
Yeah, absolutely. And what about when it comes to? Is there anyone that strikes you as a powerful female voice in the world at the moment? I mean, you mentioned Brene. Brown? Yeah. Where do you find or where do you believe the powerful female voices sit at the moment?
Rochelle Courtenay (26:13):
I think it’s, I think we’re seeing it everywhere. And I think that we’re starting to see it in whatever field, they’re having their conversations. And you know, like, I look at Susan Pierce, who talks about mind gardener and what what that does feel like, Oh, I love her work. I love Susan, I love her passionately. And you know, she’s no international person. But I absolutely adore her work. I look at the time manager Kate Christie and all of the work that she does, and that, you know, they’re both Australian women, I’ve just organized a global period poverty forum that was held here in Brisbane, the amount of women from around the world who are working in this space, oh, my God, I tip my hat off to them.
Because to work in anything to do with poverty is bloody hard. But to work in, in period poverty. It’s so hard, no one wants to flush out their dollars, because the people who are flushing out their dollars are normally men, and they don’t believe that this problem exists for them. So, you know, yeah, I don’t know, there are a lot. There are a lot of women that I look up to and admire in Australia. And I will tell you that I’ve met most of them through networking events, Oh, I love going into that room and being in that room, even when I didn’t feel like I deserve to be there. Yeah. But you know, that’s how I’ve met them. And I’m privileged to call them friends, whether I’ve met them half a dozen times. But so many of them have all played a role in helping me to share the dignity, whether it’s a piece or conversation that ended up with a mentoring nugget of gold that’s helped me I mean, the bits that can help you, right?
Jacqueline Nagle (27:45):
Absolutely. The generosity of you know, that connection, that connectivity, when you bump into people, you meet people, you have a conversation, I think one thing that women do really well is that generosity of conversation, and the insight that comes through, I just picked up on something that I’d love to come back to if that’s okay. Because you said, as we were opening that you learned that one of the biggest mistakes you made was just talking to women, and that now talking to men and women, because it’s society’s program. And you just mentioned how it’s actually hard to get the men to open their wallets and put the money out. How do you navigate that, like this realization that you need to talk to both? And then you actually need to get them to believe?
Rochelle Courtenay (28:22):
I think that I’ve never I’ve not really done that. Well. Yeah, I’ve not done that. Well, but that is absolutely a mindset that I’ve now changed to and, and I just thought it was I probably sat in a safe place. To be honest, I probably sat with ya, you know, it’s an easy conversation to have with women, they wouldn’t be empathetic to it. And I probably was disrespectful to the fact that men wouldn’t be empathetic to it. Yeah. So I really have had to change that mindset. And I really think that that mindset has only come from from COVID and having the time to rest my brain rest of my body and recuperate. Right?
Jacqueline Nagle (28:59):
Yeah, it’s really interesting. I’d love to know your perspective. But I look at it sometimes. And I’m teaching women how to have a voice. But we’ve just had two years where we haven’t been anywhere. And yet the work is stronger. The work is deeper, and there’s a bigger thirst for it. Yes, we’ve been showing up on screen. But that I feel as though what COVID gifted in hindsight, and there’s a lot of gifts, I’m sure you’ve got yours as well. Yeah, there is. But I think what a gift it was that ability to think deeply, that ability to have the space to really consider and go deep. And even if it was actually more theoretically and thinking it gave that space and is that what fostered that ability to breathe and stop and really look at the perspective.
Rochelle Courtenay (29:36):
Yeah, but I think the bigger gift to that is understanding that you give yourself space and you give yourself rest. You could be the best version of you. Whereas before COVID I thought I was the best version of me going a million miles an hour and never I thought rest was for the week. Yeah, literally that’s what I thought right? But really, I’m much rested space to whether it’s pottering in my God no going for a walk all those things that I gave up for so long, because I was so busy and I needed to be busy to build a charity. Absolutely. I get that. Yeah. But in hindsight, if I could go back, I would make sure that I absolutely got eight hours sleep that I absolutely took time to do the things that made my heart sing because it makes me think differently. It makes me be better is what I know now. Yeah, so COVID Hadn’t so many. And yes, there was the fact that I couldn’t fly anywhere and that people were there were lots of lockdowns and it and it caused a lot of issues for people. But for me, it was a gift.
Jacqueline Nagle (30:36):
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more it in my you know, I’m very faith driven and very spiritual. And I quite often kind of smile myself thinking that was God speaking telling us to stop. Absolutely. Take a breath. Rest, learn to rest. We weren’t listening. So he made sure what happened.
I could talk to you all day long. I love this. Before we do start to wrap up, though. You mentioned earlier about the bathroom story. Can we go there for a moment? Yeah,
Rochelle Courtenay (31:05):
absolutely. So it was raining. And it was a Sunday and I was cleaning out my bathroom cupboard. And I had been a netball coach and a personal trainer. And people have given me soaps and powders and oh god, perfumes, all different sorts of things anyway, and I cleaned out my bathroom cupboard and thought, oh my god, somebody else would love this. I don’t ever change from my same basic things, right? Yeah,
Jacqueline Nagle (31:28):
I’m the same. I have my standard,
Rochelle Courtenay (31:31):
my standard and I don’t ever change. So I then was cleaning out my handbags. And I filled for handbags with all of the stuff that was in there. And they didn’t have the essentials in them back then. And I took them to a DV shelter that I knew because she had the dignity that had already existed. And that looks on those girls faces. And this DB shelter helps women under the age of 25 with a child who fled dB, so it’s very specific. Oh wow.
Some of them had not had a Christmas two of those girls had not had a Christmas present since they were 12 years old. Because they been in these long term DV relationships. And one of them had fled a home of Divi. So for them to have their own handbag, have a Christmas gift and to have things that they could use. They felt amazing. So at that stage, I had my own personal training business. My first client was at 530. In the morning, I posted about the picture and the story at 515. In the morning, by the time I knocked off at lunchtime that had gone viral. And as per turn like I used to be I had no thought process into how it would happen. But it did happen.
And that first year we collected 24,000 bags, I had about 200 volunteers around Australia and people had to it was so complicated. People had to text the number and say we put the suburb on the website on an Excel spreadsheet. And then we’d put their their text there put their phone number and then they’d have to text to get where the addresses that they could drop it off and leave it on their front veranda. Front veranda is all over Australia were covered. The next year though, we did it and we had Fernwood involved.
We had Terry White chemists involved, we had resilient beauty and beauty salons involved all over Australia and hairdressing salons, and we collected over 100,000 beds. So there was not enough room and all of those places to collect them. So the year after I was about May that year I called out Bunnings on social media and said Bunnings you’d really need to help us can everyone tag Bunnings and ever since then Bunnings have been on board and have been a collection point for us for the last five years. So we’ve now collected 730,000 It’s in the bags, and every single one of them has a story that impact somebody’s heart.
Jacqueline Nagle (33:50):
Oh, I love that. I really, you know, it’s 730,000 bags is phenomenal. It’s not something you would have dreamed when you dropped off those four bags. And you’re right, every bag has a story, you know, these these things that come on it many stories, many stories and this is you know, even the stories of getting them together and getting them to the depots and you know, actually understanding that it changes someone’s life that’s what I want everyone to take away like it’s so simple. And you think that’s why it went viral. Everything you do is so simple you know
Rochelle Courtenay (34:23):
that’s because I’m simple. Tell you full of common sense but I’m not book smart. My husband’s so look smart and lots of people around me. We all have different skills we do I just don’t I think that we have to learn that really early on you have to try to hone into what do you think is your are your strengths and focus on them not on the things that you’re not good at? Yeah, right. We spend so much of our life. Like if you look at your report cards when you used to come home with report card you’d get three A’s and one you know mine was always in sport all my pair I would do would focus on my seeds. Yeah. So then then you set yourself up for the rest of your life to only focus on the things that you weren’t good at. We started from a really early age
Jacqueline Nagle (35:10):
we do. And it’s interesting because it actually, as we get older, it gets so layered that most of us can’t even see the good anymore. Nurses have gotten what we excel in and what we find natural. And so yeah, so I love that piece of advice. And that’s perspective. And you know what, having three A’s in sports, there are many of us who go I would love to have had three A’s in sports,
Rochelle Courtenay (35:29):
as I would have loved to have your biology. At the end of the day, we are who we are. And we can always try to be better in different areas. But we’re, no one else is ever going to be you know, and you just have to do you the best you can.
Jacqueline Nagle (35:43):
Yeah. Is there any particular story or any moment that really stands out for you when you realize the impact like you spoke about when you drop those bags off? Has there been anything else that’s really got your heart? Ah,
Rochelle Courtenay (35:54):
oh, all the time, all the time, to be honest. But I think one story, there are many but the one story of a woman who had spent two weeks in her car with her two boys because it was safer for her to be in her car and ended up getting a placement at a DV shelter in Anona, which was in Canberra. She received a bag but she’d spent two weeks in that car she hadn’t brushed her teeth and washed her hair and she said she didn’t even talk about she said she hadn’t brushed her teeth, but she talked about washing her hair, with Pantene felt like all of the smells of spring all at one hit. She said I can’t believe like I felt so dirty and like I shouldn’t have belonged anywhere. And when I washed my hair and brushed my teeth, I just felt like a different person. And she was she received that bag. It was really important to her that she received that bag. The very basic of essentials are so important to other people. Yeah,
Jacqueline Nagle (36:49):
I love her description.
Rochelle Courtenay (36:51):
There’s 100 other stories that I could tell though. Yeah, I
Jacqueline Nagle (36:54):
love that if you’re going to do a human’s if New York you’re gonna publish a book one day.
Rochelle Courtenay (36:59):
Oh, no, I am we are going to start a TV podcast piece where we get to share some of the stories that of people who’ve been recipients of our of the Donate amazing. Only them it’ll be you know, maybe one will be about talking to a volunteer who’s Why does she volunteer? It’ll just be just interesting. stories that are part of share the dignity.
Jacqueline Nagle (37:21):
I look forward to that. When is that coming our way next year? Incredible.
Rochelle Courtenay (37:26):
I have promised everybody I wouldn’t do anything new. But this is the only new thing.
Jacqueline Nagle (37:31):
I’m not doing anything new about. Well, this
Rochelle Courtenay (37:33):
has been on the cards for a little while. We’ve just one. We’re just very excited that Ken and have given us everything we need to start a podcast and amazing. Yeah, which is super good.
Jacqueline Nagle (37:42):
Sorry. That’s incredible. Congratulations on. Incredible.
Rochelle Courtenay (37:46):
Let’s let’s see how long it takes us to bring it to one drop on the 28th of every month. A good period other people wonderful.
Jacqueline Nagle (37:54):
Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Rochelle. As we close out, I’ve just got a couple of quick questions. Rapid Fire tank questions. Love him. Do you love reading or podcasts? Podcasts? Podcasts? What are you binging on podcasts?
Rochelle Courtenay (38:07):
Oh, actually, sorry. No, I like reading but I like audiobooks.
Jacqueline Nagle (38:11):
Rochelle Courtenay (38:13):
Yeah, I’m up to about my 50th book this year. I will love you. And I literally, I love I love it. And this year is the only time that I’ve ever read Brene Brown. So I was and I started with Atlas of the heart because somebody gave it to me for Christmas. Right? And then I thought I will I must go back and read and listen to every other book. But I listened to diverse things. You know, Matthew McConaughey. Oh, my God all day.
Jacqueline Nagle (38:37):
I know. I can’t I’ve actually got to listen to greenlights again because I don’t think I took any of it in Yeah, totally with you.
Rochelle Courtenay (38:44):
Give us some really, I didn’t expect what I got from that book. Yeah, like he really is soul deep he, you know, yeah, that’s Yes. He is super. Yeah, he’s not a surface guy. No, yeah, no, I really appreciated that book. But I have been listening a lot to fasting and the the way that it that our body deals with trauma and fixing the insides of your body.
Jacqueline Nagle (39:08):
Love that. I think most of us in this generation are finding that is a key to unlocking a lot more about health, I think is the diplomatic way to put it.
Rochelle Courtenay (39:17):
Absolutely. Well, menopause is a whole nother topic, right. And that’s what I’ve been
Rochelle Courtenay (39:28):
turned 50 Last year, direct to me and this time last year I had a hysterectomy, which completely throws your body in complete whack. So yeah, the non sleeping, the night cramps, the sweats the all of those things I’ve been able to manage through Chinese medicine and fasting and and working my diet to work better for me.
Jacqueline Nagle (39:47):
Yeah, amazing. And it’s a pathway that we all have to go down at some point. Absolutely. So anyone who’s listening, but if you’re in your 40s heading towards 50s Just start building that knowledge now. Oh,
Rochelle Courtenay (40:01):
yeah, they’ll juggle every bank because it’s worth and, you know, I think it’s a little bit like having a baby people will give you all of their advice. And I think it’s really important that you research as much as you can and take on with what works for you. Absolutely. Just because something worked for me doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. So
Jacqueline Nagle (40:18):
speaking of advice from others, what’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Oh. I love your brain stay in your lane. I love your brain. It just
Rochelle Courtenay (40:36):
No, I don’t think that there is worse pieces of byte of advice. I always think that you can learn something from Why did they say that? Yeah. You know, like, sometimes you can analyze and that you can come to the point with to the fact with there’s something wrong with them. Not wrong with you. Yeah, at the same time, right. Yeah. So but the old person in May would have gone straight to our Well, they’ve said that because you’re not worthy, or you’re not this or you’re not. So yeah, I understand who you are. And why why people say what they say sometimes. Yeah, I love that so much. And then there were these the two CEOs who told me that come back to us in a couple of years of Shabbat dignity still around.
Jacqueline Nagle (41:13):
Don’t you love that, that failure to adopt that, like, you know, like, I remember, actually, I do have a massive project that fails spectacularly at the end because of contractual breach. But in the build up to it, the people who came on board and sponsored and partnered, I was so grateful, because everyone’s saying, oh, when this one works, we’ll do the next one. I’m like, a pattern like, yeah, and it’s one of the challenges that we have when something’s new and needs change is getting the buy in. Everybody’s are more people. Okay, once it’s safe to invest and align. Yeah, so yeah, so totally. Yeah, but I love that. That’s not worst piece of advice. It’s just like, Yeah, I’ll stay out of your world.
Rochelle Courtenay (41:50):
And I won’t become a knocking on your door when we are.
Jacqueline Nagle (41:53):
You don’t get to. That’s where the Oprah thing comes in. Doesn’t it? Like if you don’t if you weren’t, if you weren’t? Was it? If you weren’t ride with me on the bus? You don’t get to ride in the limo? Yeah, that’s right. So what would be the best piece of advice then that you’ve ever been given? What’s really helped you?
Rochelle Courtenay (42:08):
Um, I would say, You do you? Yeah. You do you? Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Have you found that easy? How have you found that? That works for me? Amazing. Because there’s no one else like me. Yeah. You know, incredible. Yeah. So that that piece of advice is gold for me. And I would say that’s the best thing that like, I would want to tell tell my children, you just do you feel fabulous. Whatever. You know, you’re different. Yeah. I mean, even my two children are so very different doesn’t mean that one’s better than the other. Yeah,
Jacqueline Nagle (42:40):
they’re just different. They’re just different just to you. I find it fascinating that they come from the same parentage, and they raised in the same way, and they’d like I’ve got three that were raised together. And they are completely different. You know? Absolutely. And gloriously them in all their flaws and perfections. Yeah. So would that be your actual final pearl of wisdom or final piece of things that we say?
Rochelle Courtenay (43:03):
Absolutely. Yes. Do you and don’t be afraid to make mistakes? Lovers mistakes aren’t really mistakes. They’re just way of learning to do things differently.
Jacqueline Nagle (43:12):
Absolutely. Absolutely. So on that note, Rochelle, thank you so much for joining us. And to everybody listening. Please just remember just a huge.
Jacqueline Nagle (43:21):
Thanks. Thank you for joining me for this episode of raise 1000 voices. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation as much as I have. And if you have, then I would love you to subscribe to and write the show on your favourite platform. Our show notes, resources and links to all our socials can be found at any given tuesday.com.au forward slash podcast. And if you’d like to join a growing community of clever, creative and courageous women who know that they want to be seen, heard and remembered. Then join us in our Facebook group, raise 1000 voices until we speak again. Take care and remember, you were born to raise your voice