Share the Dignity is concerned about collecting enough It’s in the Bag donations for their Christmas appeal

01 Nov 2023

Share the Dignity is concerned about collecting enough It’s in the Bag donations for their Christmas appeal, as new research reveals over a third of women are worried about affording presents this Christmas

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.

Each November, Share the Dignity calls on Australians 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.

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 any Bunnings store nationwide from Friday 10 November until Sunday 26 November 2023.

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 3,648 Australian women, found living without basic essentials was a widespread issue with almost 20 per cent (18%) going without the basic essentials included in It’s in the Bag donations due to cost.

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,” Ms Courtenay said.

“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 150,000 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.”

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.”

Bunnings Chief Customer Ryan Baker said they were proud to support Share the Dignity’s It’s in the Bag appeal again this year, with the annual appeal collecting over 623,000 bags through Bunnings stores to date.

“This is our seventh year being involved in It’s in the Bag and it has become a cause close to the heart of many of our team members who throw their full support behind the campaign each year,” Mr Baker said.

“Our team will be turning our stores pink putting their own decorative spin on donation boxes and welcoming sheroes who work tirelessly to collect and distribute bags to those who need them most in time for Christmas.

“It has been a tough year for a lot of Australians and the work Share the Dignity do providing support for vulnerable women and girls is needed more than ever this year. The generosity of our customers who donate bags blows us away each year and we encourage anyone who can to put together a bag filled with essentials and drop it off at their local Bunnings from the 10th to the 26th of November.

We are excited this year to make it even easier to donate by extending collection dates and offering an easy option to purchase a bag from the Bunnings website.”

Those wanting to support women and girls like Kim and her daughter can drop-off an It’s in the Bag donation to their nearest Bunnings store from 10 - 26 November 2023, Sponsor a Bag online, or register to become a Share the Dignity volunteer. Donations will be distributed to Australians in need in time for Christmas via Share the Dignity’s 3000 charity partners.