Two hand made face masks with clear inserts for lip reading lay on a table. Beside them are hearing aids, scissors and a pincushion.

Masks are considered a tool to protect ourselves and each other from Coronavirus. We try and bring together all the info you need about masks in one place. This blog contains information and links to videos all about face masks. Making, wearing and washing face masks; and the lawful reasons that masks are not needed.

 

 If it is easier to talk to someone, please ring the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm. 


Skip to: 

Easy Read and Easy English | Videos in Community Languages
Should I wear a mask? 
Lawful reasons for not wearing a mask.
 
State by State info: SA | QLD | NSW | Victoria | Everywhere else 
More info: Making a mask | How to wear a mask | Autism and masks | Communication needs | Glasses and fogging | Where to get masks | Exemption Badges (VIC)

Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you. If you are in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is not possible like on public transport, it is good to wear a mask if you can.

Should I wear a mask? 

Easy Read and Easy English

From Access Easy English 

From the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

 From the Australian Government

IDEAS encourages people to print and share Easy English and Easy Read information with people who may not have access to the internet.

Videos in Community Languages (Victoria)

Videos in 16 different community languages from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services are available. View them here and please share them with anyone who would benefit seeing them.


Victoria

New rules apply from 11.59pm on Friday 12th February. Masks will be mandatory in all settings outside the home. Remember that special conditions for not wearing a mask still apply.
Go to Live in Vic? COVIDSafe Summer Rules for more information.

South Australia

South Australians are recommended to wear masks in all areas outside the home when you cannot social distance. It is not a rule. 

Go to Live in SA - Need to Know COVID19 Info for more information.

QLD

QLD Health recommends you wear a face mask when you are not able to keep 1.5m away from other people. You don’t need to wear a face mask unless your doctor has told you to or you are caring for someone who might have COVID-19. However, those in the Greater Brisbane community, who struggle to social (physical) distance throughout their day, should also consider wearing a mask.

Go to Live in QLD? Need to Know COVID-19 Disability Info for more information. 

NSW

Wearing a face mask is mandatory on public transport (including waiting platforms), some indoor settings, places of worship and airports, commercial and domestic flights in Greater Sydney. 

See Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong for the rules about when you need to wear a face mask in indoor settings (including, hair and beauty premises, tattoo parlours, massage parlours and spas, gaming areas in licensed premises).

It is recommended to wear a mask in Shopping Centres. 

It may not be suitable for some people with a disability to wear a face mask. 

If you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this. However, this is not a requirement under the public health order.

The NSW Government answers some Common questions about face mask rules here.

Go to Live in NSW? The latest about COVID-19 for more information. 

 


Government guides for the rest of Australia


 Making a mask

The Hearing, Speech and Deaf Centre have shared a guide on how to make an Accessible, Deaf Friendly Face Mask. This includes a clear section of the mask so that lip reading and facial expressions can still be seen.

To make a cloth mask, the Victorian DHHS has produced a guide. Link to Design and preparation of cloth mask. 

PDF Version for Download pdfDesign and Preparation of cloth mask IDEAS have requested this document in accessible formats. We endeavour to provide them here, so watch this space.

A video version, from The Social Studio, is recommended by DHHS. 

 How to wear a mask


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Masks

Harvard Medical Publishing has tips about Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests. It outlines challenges and suggestions for what to do in each situation.

IDEAS has heard of parents helping children work with their sensory needs, by offering fabric masks in materials or colours/ designs that the children enjoy. 

Other great tips include if the child does not like having the elastic around their ears, sew two buttons on their favourite hat and loop the elastic over the buttons. Rather than rest on the ears, this can add space between the ear and the elastic. They can wear their hat if they need to leave the house.

Graphics you can use to help tell a story, produced by WHO can be for downloaded here.

Communication Needs and Masks

Some people need to use masks with clear sections so that they can communicate with people who need to see facial expressions and lip read. Masks can also be lowered to show facial expressions - if people remain 1.5m apart from each other. Using paper and pen, or a mobile device may also be an alternative means of communication. If you download a speech to text app you can still communicate with people who cannot see your mouth.

Expressions Australia has developed a toolkit with images that you can save on your device to help you communicate with people wearing masks.

 

If you wear a hearing aid, take care when putting on or taking off your face mask to ensure you don’t lose your hearing aid or get your face mask tangled in it. Consider using a face mask that ties around the head, rather than over the ears as this will keep the ties free from your hearing aid.

If you are having trouble communicating with someone who is wearing a face mask you can ask them to speak louder or to remove their mask during your conversation. You should maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres from others.

Glasses and fogging

A combination of warm air when breathing out, outside cooler air temperatures, wearing glasses and adding a mask equal foggy glasses. This article from The Conversation is a great resource and may help you.

'It may take a few attempts to get used to wearing a mask. But with a bit of trial and error, your glasses should remain fog-free, your ears comfortable and any anxiety about wearing a mask should reduce' 

Where can I get a mask?

Locally, your chemist, pharmacy, some corner stores or convenience stores, some clothing retailers, hardware stores, or you may find a charity group or sewing group is selling them. Some chemists have online orders or telephone orders available.

Your service provider may be able to help you with supplies of masks too. If you are having trouble finding somewhere close to home, contact our Information Officers, we can do the searching for you. Masks can also be purchased online. Just be careful that when you are buying them, they are either approved surgical masks (that meet the Australian Standard) or they are cloth mask with three layers. 

How much are masks?

Fabric masks, which are washable and reusable, start at around $6.00 for a generic mask.

Single-use, disposable masks surgical masks can cost from $2 upwards, or if you buy in bulk, the cost per mask may be cheaper.

IDEAS encourages you to be careful about unusually high prices, to compare your options, before making a purchasing decision. Beware of scams, online or in-store and if you are not sure, we are happy to help you source local options, or NDIS registered providers.

How to wash a fabric mask

Re-usable masks should be washed frequently in warm-hot water over 60°C, with soap or laundry detergent, or, wash using room temperature water then boil the mask for one minute. See more about washing masks at the Centre for Disease Prevention.

Lawful reasons or exceptions for not wearing a face covering

Face covering is not required in the following circumstances: 

  • Infants and children under the age of 12 years
  • A person who is affected by a relevant medical condition - including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition.
  • This includes persons who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to that person’s health and safety, related to their work, as determined through OH&S guidelines.
  • Persons whose professions need clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth. This includes teaching or live broadcasting. 
  • Professional sportspeople when training or competing.
  • When the individual is doing any exercise or physical activity where they are out of breath or puffing; examples include jogging or running but not walking. You must have a face covering on you and wear it when you finish exercising.
  • When directed by police to remove the face covering to check identity.
  • The person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves or with other members of their household.
  • When consuming food, drink, medication or when smoking/vaping.
  • When undergoing dental treatment or other medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn. 
  • When entering or inside a financial institution, like a bank.
  • During emergencies.

Exemption Badges 

You can choose to use a printable badge or a Smartphone badge that is available from the Victorian DHHS website.

Smartphone Badge

For anyone who is exempt and has a valid reason for not wearing a face mask.


Print-ready badge

For more information 

Start Here for all our other COVID-19 Information 
Australian Government Health Department
DHHS Victoria Face Masks
NSW Health
13 Insider tips on how to wear a mask without your glasses fogging up, getting short of breath or your ears hurting 
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)
 

IDEAS does information so you can do life.