THE Happy Boxes Project, a not-for-profit organisation that provides beautiful boxes of toiletries, sanitary items and self-care products via Happy Boxes to Indigenous women in remote communities around Australia is proud to announce the launch of ‘The Happy Hub’.
Located on the traditional lands of the Gumbaynggirr peoples in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, ‘The Happy Hub’ is an administrative office, packing warehouse, and safe social space for local Indigenous women to connect.
It will also allow the self-care hygiene organisation to increase its production and distribution of the much-loved ‘Happy Boxes’.
In 2021, despite the many challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic impacting supply chain deliveries and volunteer participation, The Happy Boxes Project still managed to send more than 3000 Happy Boxes to Indigenous women.
A Happy Box is a collection of toiletries and beauty products put together with care, and sent to an Indigenous woman in a remote community.
It may include essential items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, pads, tam1pons, and toothpaste or luxury self-care items such as make-up, body scrub, face masks, journals, candles, and hair accessories.
“For some remote Indigenous communities, the closest store can be up to 1000 kilometres away,” Mr Joshua Maguire, Corporate Liaison at The Happy Boxes Project, said.
“Even if there is access to these stories there is often a limited amount of products available, and heavy price gouging is common.
“For example, our coordinators report seeing $27 for a pack of basic underwear and $30 for a tin of baby formula,” Mr Maguire added.
Siena Stubbs, 20, is a proud Yolŋu woman from the very remote community of Yirrkala in East Arnhem, Northern Territory. Her native language is Yolŋu matha.
Siena said the most common barrier she has found living in a remote community is the quick access to adequate and essential resources like hygiene products.
“Whist our community store provides the most basic brands of weekly goods, the closest supermarket is a fifteen minute drive through the bush.
“After being driven in a semi-trailer to get to Darwin and then shipped on a barge to Nhulunbuy our vegetables and other goods aren’t in the greatest condition,” Ms Stubbs said.
Ms Stubbs believes that one of the most useful things in a Happy Box is a nice bar of soap or a bottle of beautifully-smelling body wash.
“When I first heard about The Happy Boxes Project, I remember feeling warm and excited.
“Finally, there was a light for young Aboriginal girls just like me in communities just like mine.
“I am very lucky for the life my parents have given me and I was always reminded of that when my little gathus (nieces or nephews), wakus (daughters) or gutharras (granddaughters) would come over to our house for dinner.
“Without fail, every time they would come around, they would come into my room and marvel at the toys I had.
“More often than not, they would find the make-up I had for my dance concerts and within less than a minute, it would be smudged all over their faces.
“This memory has really reinforced my realisation that every child around the world shares the same fascination for self-care.
“The Happy Boxes Project provides that for these young girls,” Siena added.
Founder of The Happy Boxes Project, Ms Emma Sullings, believes the barriers Indigenous women face in accessing basic hygiene items is unacceptable.
“To think of women in our own backyard going with staples such as tampons, shampoo, and toothpaste or being forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money for them is a national disgrace,” Ms Sullings said.
“We need all Australians to be aware of the unfair disadvantage women face in remote communities and know that a seemingly small gesture like a Happy Box can make a huge difference to the life of a young woman who may otherwise go without the daily items we take for granted.”
To find out more about Happy Boxes please visit: https://happyboxesproject.com/
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.