Authorities should give young people a breather on masks in the short term

Police should show restraint on young people who aren’t wearing masks – at least in the first instance – as they adjust to the new rules the Andrews Government has implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19, Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said today.

Mr McDonald said that while he supported the mandatory wearing of masks, he called for restraint from authorities when seeking compliance in the wearing of the masks on young people.

“Tolerance and dialogue is the key here. This is a significant change of behaviour for all of us, but in particular for young people,” Mr McDonald said.

“The last thing we want is we see authorities coming down hard on young people and loading them up with $200 fines. This is not a solution.

“Last time, some of the young people in our care were issued ‘hamburger with the lot’ fines in the early stages of the lockdown rather than being warned. Vulnerable young people will ‘get it’ and want to do the right thing, we just need to ensure authorities get it as well.

“Behaviour change with some of our young people takes time, and we know from our recent experience with self-isolation that it takes at least a few weeks for the new rules to sink in.  Our young people have their own daily struggles with family violence or the youth justice system, and this can make hard to get the message through.

“Many of the places that provide work and recreation for young people have shut down. A COVID world is already very demanding on young people. A bit of tolerance will go a long way towards getting everyone on the same team to help us beat this virus and start opening up the city again.

“Care agencies like Anglicare Victoria will be working hard to get the word out to our young people from all cultural backgrounds as quickly as possible, and support them to change their behaviour and follow the new rules. But we do need some understanding from authorities while this happens.”

Anglicare Victoria will provide face masks with takeaway food packs at our emergency relief centres in Melbourne. We are inviting donations of cloth masks from the public. You can get in touch through a message to our Facebook page if you can help.

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