From 11 October all Victorians must wear a fitted face mask when they leave home, no matter where they live.
DHHS has a list of questions and answers on their website.
We are pleased that the Victorian Government has recognised this. They have provided exemptions for people with disability for whom wearing face coverings would be impractical or unsafe because of medical, communication or other individual risk factors.
The current restrictions specifies people with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable are exempt. Examples provided including people who have obstructed breathing, a serious skin condition on their face, an intellectual disability, a mental health illness, or who have experienced trauma.
We expect this exemption will assist autistic people in a range of circumstances such as where a person has sensory issues that would prevent them from using face coverings; those with communication issues (and those they are communicating with where the ability to see the mouth is essential); where face coverings would exacerbate a mental health condition and those with co-occurring intellectual disability.
Children and people aged 12 years and older should wear a face mask. Children under the age of 12 years do not have to wear a face mask but individual families can make their own decisions regarding their children.
Children who are two years old and under should never wear a face mask or covering due to choking and strangulation risks.
Students under the age of 12 do not have to wear face masks. Students aged 12 and over will need to wear face masks when they are attending school.
However, children who are aged 12 and over who are attending primary school do not need to wear a face mask at school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face masks while others are not required to.
Students over 12 years old who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face mask where their disability means it would not be suitable but may do so if they or their family choose to.
Students over the age of 12 who attend a specialist school are not required to wear a face mask where their disability means it would not be suitable. However, if wearing a face mask is suitable for that student, they must wear one.
To better support NDIS participants during the extended coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have made a temporary change to funding arrangements for personal protective equipment (PPE).
These changes apply where coronavirus (COVID-19) is active your community, and the use of PPE is consistent with current health advice.
You can now recover the costs to purchase PPE items using your NDIS funds, if you;
For more information visit the NDIS website.
You do not need a medical certificate stating that you have a lawful reason for not wearing a mask. If you have a lawful reason for not wearing a mask you do not need to apply for an exemption or permit.
If you are stopped by police, they will ask you to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a mask.
People who have a medical condition, including problems with their breathing, do not have to wear face coverings.
Yes, people with disability must wear a face covering unless it is unsuitable to do so for medical, physical, communication or other individual risk factors.
The requirement to wear face coverings applies when people are outside of their home for one of the four reasons. It does not apply to aged care residents or other group homes residents while they are in the facility. However, it does apply to the facility’s staff and visitors and when a resident leaves the facility for one of the four reasons.
Some people who have past experiences of trauma are unable to wear a face covering due to psychological impacts. This is a valid reason not to wear or carry a face covering when you leave home.
We know there is worry amongst those who may not be able to wear masks that they could find themselves in trouble with the community or the police. We are still working with DHHS and Victoria Police on how the wider community can support people with medical exemptions.
If you do leave your home without wearing a face mask, we recommend that you only do so after seeking advice from your regular health practitioners. You also may need to explain (if asked) to police or others that you have a medical exemption.
Importantly, the Chief Health Office has asked Victorians not to make assumptions about those who are not wearing face coverings given the broad and legitimate reasons that exist for some people not to wear them.
You may want to try having groceries delivered to your home. Some supermarkets like Woolworths are still offering priority deliveries for vulnerable customers. Woolworths are recommending that if you have an exemption and are unable to wear a face covering for any of these reasons, “we’d strongly encourage you to avoid coming in to store and order online for Delivery or Pick up (including Community Pick up which allows others to pick up on your behalf).”
You can be fined if you don’t wear or carry a face mask with you, unless you have a lawful excuse such as a medical condition, you’re under the age of 12, or when you’re eating drinking or smoking.
Harvard Health Publishing has some specific advice for autistic people and their families.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has some resources you might find helpful:
This social story from America on how to safely wear and remove a mask may help you or your family: https://paautism.org/resource/wearing-mask-social-story/
We know that the autistic and autism communities are committed to doing their bit to limit the spread of coronavirus, including following the stay at home directive (if relevant to you).
By following the government advice, we can do our bit in trying to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Amaze will continue to provide reliable, verified updates from the government that are most relevant for our community.
Our Autism Advisors are available 8am-7pm weekdays for autism specific advice.
Phone: 1300 308 699
Email: [email protected]
Webchat: Click the live chat icon in the bottom corner of the Amaze website.
If you need immediate support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Parentline on 13 22 89
Please note: this is not a counselling service, nor do we provide healthcare referrals. However, we can provide information about accessing these services.