man wearing a surgical face mask

This blog contains information and links to videos all about Masks. Making, wearing and washing face masks; and the lawful reasons that masks are not needed. Easy English resources.

We try and bring together all the info you need about masks in one place.

If it is easier to talk to someone, please ring the COVID-19 Disability Information Helpline 1800 643 787. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm. IDEAS Information Officers answer the calls and can help with your questions.

On this page

Please click on the link to go to the information you need.

Easy Read and Easy English - Information | Videos in Community Languages
 
South Australia Information
QLD Information
NSW Information
Victoria Information
Australian Community Information
 
How to wear a mask  | Lawful excuses or exceptions for not wearing a face-covering | Exemption Badges | Masks, glasses and fogging | Communication Needs and Masks | Autism Spectrum Disorder and masks  | Making a mask  | Where can I get a mask | Recommendations for using a cloth mask
 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wearing Personal Protective Equipment for Disability Support Workers 

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.

Easy Read and Easy English - Should I wear a Mask?

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.


South Australia

South Australians are recommended to wear masks in all areas outside the home. It is not a rule. 

People need to wear masks when providing personal care and where they can not be more than 1.5 apart from people.

Live in SA - Need to Know COVID19 Info is regularly updated with changes and news.

QLD

QLD Health recommend 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.

NSW

In NSW, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant recommends wearing a mask:

  • If it is hard to maintain 1.5 metres of physical distance from others 
  • In areas where there has been community transmission 
  • When in high-risk indoor areas such as public transport, supermarkets, shops, churches and other places of worship  
  • When caring for or serving vulnerable people 
  • If working in a cafe, restaurant, pub, club or other high-risk indoor areas.  

While wearing a mask in any of these settings is not mandatory, it is recommended. See NSW Government for more information.

Victoria

Face masks remain mandatory in some settings, Lawful reasons to not wear a mask still apply. 

If you can maintain 1.5m social distancing, face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors.

At venues such as public transport stations, outdoor markets, walkways and thoroughfares if you are unable to stay 1.5m apart you must use a mask

Face masks remain mandatory when indoors for example at the supermarket or on public transport.

You must continue to carry a mask with you at all times.

New rules state that only fitted masks are allowed.

While a mask can be used as an extra precaution, you must continue to:

  • Stay at home if unwell
  • Maintain physical distance (more than 1.5m) from other people, when out
  • Avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor spaces
  • Practise hand and respiratory hygiene

The Australian Government guides for the rest of Australia


Lawful reasons or exceptions for not wearing a face covering

A 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.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face-covering at all times you don’t need to carry it with you. 

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. See DHHS for more information for Victoria.

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.


 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 via their youtube channel, you can view it here.

 

 

How to wear a mask

The WHO has produced an animated video with text on how to wear a fabric mask safely. WHO Organisation A fabric mask can act as a barrier to prevent the spread of the virus. But, it must be used correctly and always combined with other measures to protect yourself and everyone else. Here is how to wear a fabric mask safely.

 

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.

Masks, glasses and fogging

A combination of warm air when breathing out, outside cooler air temperatures, wearing glasses and adding a mask equal foggy glasses. The Conversation have a great article to 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' The Conversation

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wearing Personal Protective Equipment for Disability Support Workers

Allison McMillan, Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, covers common concerns for Disability Support Workers and demonstrates how and when to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for disability support workers in this video

The Victorian Community Services sector advice:

Besides the existing need for all staff in community services to wear surgical masks, advice requires staff to wear eye protection when they are directly working with clients. Detailed information on the plan can be found at Community Services. Please view the plan online, as any printed copies may be superseded by newer versions online.

In addition to wearing masks, a P2/N95 respirator/mask is required where providing care in an uncontrolled environment where there are high numbers of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and there may be exposure to aerosol-generating behaviours.

Services are requested to access appropriate eye protection for their client-facing staff. This is a public health infection control recommendation.

Providers of residential care, supported residential services, disability group homes, crisis and congregate homelessness services and other care settings, who need PPE should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make a request.

All requests will be triaged by the department with priority given to facilities, programs and carers where there has been a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Demand for PPE is very high, therefore providers are encouraged to source PPE independently if they can, prior to requesting stock from the department.

Disability providers funded under the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have access to the National Medical Stockpile and should request PPE through this in the first instance: NDIS Commission
Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) should access PPE by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sector guidance for community services workers is at the department’s Community services Coronavirus website

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.   
 
The Government has ordered an extra 2 million masks for aged care workers and disability workers. Disability providers and self-managed NDIS participants can request access to PPE from the NMS by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., where they cannot get the equipment they need through their usual channels.


The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services will be distributing 2.1 million reusable face masks through Service Providers to:

  • Vulnerable Victorians
  • Aboriginal Victorians; and
  • Workforces who come into direct client contact and deliver Victorian Government-funded health and human services to a range of vulnerable Victorians

Who is determined to be a vulnerable Victorian?

Victorians who will be offered reusable face masks will include:

  • People over the age of 12 years who are being actively managed for the following chronic conditions:
    • Poor immunity
    • Heart disease, diabetes and stroke
    • Obesity
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Alcohol and drug dependency
    • Frailty
  • People living in public housing, in crisis accommodation, or who are homeless
  • People living in rooming houses and supported residential services
  • People living with a disability
  • People with other needs including alcohol and drug issues, including those attending primary and secondary needle and syringe programs
  • People experiencing mental health
  • People experiencing family violence
  • Young people in residential facilities, and those receiving other health and human services
  • Young people with health and/or social issues that make them vulnerable
  • Young people living in mandatory facilities
  • Aboriginal people
  • Refugee and asylum seekers (including temporary visa holders).

This information comes from DHHS and to apply for this initiative see Reusable Face masks. (Aimed at service providers) And online ordering for Service Providers is here. For an Easy English Document about this see here.

NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has answered questions about masks on their website. Such as - Does my support worker need to wear a mask? Who pays for masks?, Can I buy a transcribing app to use while I wear a mask? Where can I get masks and PPE? and Can I insist that my provider wear masks and gloves?

Temporary changes to the NDIS rules to allow participants to buy masks and PPE from their funding. This is for people who:

- receive at least one hour a day of face to face daily living supports
- live in areas where there is health advice to wear masks, which right now is Victoria and NSW


The NDIS also has a section for participants that live in Victoria. The NDIA is encouraging participants that live in restricted postcodes in Victoria to contact the National Contact Centre on 1800 800 110 and select option 5 if their situation has changed due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

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 encourage 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.


For more information 

Start Here for all our other COVID-19 Information 
Australian Government Health Department
DHHS Victoria Face Masks
NSW Health
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission – July 17 Service Provider Alert
13 Insider tips on how to wear a mask without your glasses fogging up, getting short of breath or your ears hurting From The Conversation 
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)
 

If you have questions about wearing masks or Coronavirus (COVID-19) IDEAS can help. You can contact IDEAS Information Officers on 1800 029 904, SMS on 0458 296 602, email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through the Disability Information helpline on 1800 643 787.


IDEAS does information so you can do life.