This blog post is written for disabled young people in Victoria.

Last updated 3 August 2020.

Why do I have to wear a face mask?

People who live in Victoria now have to wear a face mask or face covering when they leave their house.

Wearing a face mask or face covering can help keep you and other people safe from COVID-19.

COVID-19 is spread when you come in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. Wearing a face mask or face covering can help to stop droplets spreading from one person to another.

What is a face mask or face covering?

A face mask is a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin.

It can be a:

  • Mask you use only once
  • Reusable fabric mask that you use more than once

If you do not have a face mask you can use a face covering like a:

  • Bandana
  • Scarf
  • Face shield

A face mask will do the best job at keeping you safe.

The Victorian government has said that reusable face masks should have at least two layers of material.

Masks with valves will not protect you as well as masks without valves. Valves are holes or gaps in the mask that let air in and out.

When do I have to wear a face covering?

You need to wear a face mask or face covering at all times when you leave your house. 

People who do not wear a mask when they leave their house may have to pay a fine of $200.

You do not have to wear a face mask if you:

  • Are under 12-years-old
  • Have a medical condition, disability or a mental health condition that means you cannot wear one
  • Are Deaf or hard of hearing and you cannot wear one
  • Exercising where you are out of breath, like jogging and running (but not walking)
  • Driving alone or with someone you live with.

Visit the Victorian government's face coverings webpage for a list of other reasons people may not have to wear a face mask.

If you have a medical condition, disability or a mental health condition and you can still wear a face mask, then you will need to wear one.

What if I cannot wear a face mask?

If you are unable to wear a face mask or other materials to cover your nose, mouth and chin you can use a plastic face shield.

If you cannot use a face mask or face shield and you have to go out, you may need to explain why you cannot wear a face mask if the police ask you.

You do not need a medical certificate, you just need to tell the police why you cannot wear a face mask.

How do I wear a face mask safely?

The World Health Organisation has a video about how to wear a fabric mask safely.

It is important to:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds before putting on your mask.
  • The mask should cover your mouth, nose and chin.
  • Do not touch the front of the mask when you put it on or take it off.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it.
  • Take off a mask by unhooking the straps from behind your ears.
  • Wash your hands after taking off the mask.
  • Fabric masks should be cleaned at least once a day.

Where can I buy a face mask?

You can buy face masks from a lot of different places including:

  • K-Mart
  • Bunnings
  • Officeworks
  • Chemist Warehouse
  • The EcoMask
  • Etsy

Students should bring their own masks to school but there are some face masks that will be available for free for students who cannot get one anywhere else.

Can I use my NDIS funding to buy a face mask?

If you have a NDIS plan you can use money from your plan to buy face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if you:

  • get an average of at least one hour a day of face-to-face daily living supports and
  • live in Victoria or New South Wales.

Visit the NDIS COVID-19 updates webpage for more information.

Can I make my own reusable face mask?

Yes! You can make your own reusable face mask.

The Victorian government has helpful instructions for making a cloth face mask. They also have a video explaining how to make a face mask.

If you have a sewing machine, making masks may be a fun activity to do at home.

What else should I do to keep safe?

Wearing a mask will not stop you from getting COVID-19.

You still need to stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people and wash your hands with soap. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, rubbing in between each finger and under your nails.

Humans Like Us have made an Easy Read poster with drawings of how to wash your hands properly. 

Find out more

You can read the official statement from the Victorian Premier here.