The Department of Health and Human Services will be distributing 2.1 million reusable face masks to agencies that deliver services and support vulnerable Victorians to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Important updates

Information for individual Victorians who want a reusable mask

  • If you would like to order face masks, speak to your support or case worker. They will determine if you are eligible and place an order for you.
  • You cannot order face masks through this website.
  • Some community pharmacies and general practitioners (GPs) have ordered face masks to provide to their own patients and clients, but these will be distributed at their discretion. It is not compulsory for chemists and GPs to distribute face masks.
  • You should not make an appointment with your GP just to receive a face mask. Speak to your support or case worker.

Key points

  • This initiative is for agencies that deliver services to Victorians who are vulnerable and are unable to afford or source their own face masks, Victorians who have chronic and complex conditions that increase their risk of infection, Aboriginal Victorians, people living in high density housing arrangements like residential facilities or public housing and people living with disability or mental illness. Carers of vulnerable Victorians, such as those with mental illness or disability are also eligible for a face mask.
  • Face masks will only be available through organisations that deliver services to vulnerable Victorians. See Ordering reusable face masks – information for service providers for a list of eligible organisations.
  • All orders for face masks must be placed through the above organisations. Individual orders are not accepted. Please speak to your support or case worker who can arrange face masks for you.
  • You can also talk to their local chemist or GP and request that they order some face masks. Not all Victorian chemists and GPs are taking part in this initiative, so please call ahead to check if face masks can be ordered on your behalf.
  • If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for free face masks you can purchase one or make your own fitted face mask.
  • Read about 'Who can get a free reusable face mask’ in Easy English.
On this page

Why is the Victorian Government distributing free reusable face masks?

The Victorian Government wants to protect members of the community who may become sicker with coronavirus (COVID-19), or who may be less likely to have access to face masks. Providing these people, and the workers that deliver services to them, with reusable face masks is important in minimising the risk of infection across the community - and supporting vulnerable Victorians and our essential health workers.

Ordering reusable face masks – information for service providers

Agencies eligible to place orders for masks include:

  • Community health services and hospitals
  • Local governments
  • Community pharmacies
  • GP offices
  • Disability agencies and funded residential care services for people with disabilities
  • Clinical and NGO mental health services providing community and residential based care
  • Youth support services
  • Alcohol and drug services (including needle and syringe programs) and residential facilities
  • Agencies providing care for children in out of home care
  • Child protection providers
  • Family violence services
  • Agencies providing support to people in public housing and homeless people
  • Refugee and asylum seeker support services
  • Supported residential services and boarding houses
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

Orders can only be made using the online ordering form.

Receiving and distributing face masks

Reusable face masks will be provided in quantities of two per person.

Individuals that receive disposable face masks can be provided two reusable face masks.

For disposable face masks that have been provided to agencies, five disposable face masks per person is recommended.

Masks will be delivered directly by Australia Post.

Delivery times will vary depending on regional location but will generally up to five working days from the time the order is confirmed. Australia Post will notify the agency when the order is on its way.

Agencies may not receive all the reusable face masks that they have requested, depending on the number of orders received.

What sort of face masks are being distributed?

The reusable face masks are designed to be worn multiple times and are washed between wearing. These are a practical alternative to surgical single use masks.

When will the reusable face masks become available?

Reusable face masks are available now with over 2 million locally manufactured reusable masks already distributed to vulnerable Victorians.

Who is determined to be a vulnerable Victorian?

Victorians who will be offered reusable face masks will include:

  • people 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 disability
  • people experiencing a mental health condition and their carers
  • people with health and/or social issues that make them vulnerable, including people with alcohol and drug issues, including those attending primary and secondary needle and syringe programs
  • people experiencing family violence
  • people living in residential facilities
  • young people living in mandatory facilities
  • Aboriginal people
  • Refugee and asylum seekers (including temporary visa holders).

Do agencies have to distribute face masks?

It is not compulsory for agencies to distribute face masks. This is a voluntary scheme.

Why can’t individuals order these face masks?

The ordering process has been limited to agencies and organisations which support vulnerable Victorians.

Do agencies need to check eligibility before providing a face mask?

Service providers are expected to use their own judgement in providing face masks to vulnerable Victorians and assessing that they meet the criteria for eligibility.

Service providers should confirm with individuals that they have not already accessed reusable face masks from the program.

What about other people who do not meet the criteria?

People who are not eligible for these reusable face masks should be advised that they need to purchase a face mask from a retailer or make their own fitted face mask.

How many face masks can agencies order?

Agencies ordering masks are requested to make a realistic assessment of the size of their workforce and their client group when they make an order.

How long will it take for the face masks to be delivered?

It may take up to 5 working days from the time an agency orders a face mask to delivery time.

Australia Post will distribute the face masks and there may be longer delays, due to increased demand on postal services during coronavirus (COVID-19).

What efforts will be in place to ensure face masks are distributed widely?

To support fair distribution of masks to vulnerable Victorians, agencies should avoid providing duplicate masks to individuals by making enquiries as to whether a client has already received a mask, before offering them one.

How many face masks can be provided per person?

Agencies are asked to limit the number of face masks for each client or patient to two reusable face masks. Having two reusable masks ensures they can be rotated and washed.

For disposable face masks that have been provided to agencies, five disposable face masks per person is recommended. Individuals that receive disposable face masks can be provided two reusable face masks once they become available.

Can agencies lodge orders for additional face masks?

Agencies can make a further order for face masks once the full initial order has been received and distributed.

What happens if individuals break or lose their face masks?

It is at the agencies discretion whether or not to resupply a consumer with an additional pack of reusable ace masks.

Masks are limited in supply and this should be taken into consideration before offering additional face masks. Disposable face masks are an alternative to additional reusable masks.

What advice should be provided when distributing the face masks?

Instructions on wearing and washing the reusable face masks will be provided to be distribute to clients who receive a mask.

Agencies are asked to ensure that their clients are advised to wash their reusable face masks prior to using them.

How can face masks be distributed safely?

We recommend that in the distribution of face masks to community members, the following processes are used:

At point of distribution:

  1. Ensure hair is tied back and any personal use items such as glasses are already worn to reduce the risk of contamination
  2. Wash hands with soap and water and dry with paper towel or use hand sanitiser following the Hand Hygiene Australia Protocol
  3. Remove the appropriate number of masks
  4. Hand to client with ear loops/elastic facing out for the client to receive

Pre-packing masks:

  1. Clean work surfaces with disinfectant
  2. Wash hands with soap and water and dry hands thoroughly with paper towel
  3. Apply gloves
  4. Remove masks from boxes and place into bags/ envelopes and seal
  5. Apply hand sanitiser prior to distributing pre-packaged masks

Further information