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:

Agencies are being provided with an initial stock of  disposable masks. Any agency that is provided with disposable masks will still receive the reusable masks and will not need to reorder these. The disposable masks can be offered to vulnerable clients as an alternative until the reusable masks are delivered.

Agencies that do not wish to receive the disposable masks as an alternative can use the check box on the order form to advise that the organisation does not wish to receive disposable masks.

Work is underway to add a list of distributors to this website. This will allow agencies to provide people seeking masks with alternative distributors who may be able to supply them with masks through this program. If the agency would like to be identified through the website, please indicate on the form when placing your order.

Delivery update

We’re playing our part.

As our delivery partners adapt to stage 4 directions, your mask orders may take a little longer to reach you than first estimated. 

  • If you haven’t submitted an order, you still can. 
  • If you have already had your order confirmed via email - please be assured it is being processed and you do not need to complete another form online. 

Thank you for your patience and your support in helping us slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Information for local governments, community health centres and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations

Community Health Centres, local councils and Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations will be directly allocated a stock of reusable masks as soon as they become available. You do not need to make an order of these masks at this stage. 

If you deplete the initial stock of reusable masks you can reorder additional masks using the online order form in this webpage.

Information for individual Victorians who want a reusable mask

Individuals cannot order masks through this website.

Individuals who would like to order a mask and consider that they meet the criteria for a mask are encouraged to talk to their support or case worker who will be able to order masks.

Some community pharmacies and general practitioners have ordered masks to provide to their own patients and clients, but these will be distributed at their discretion, and individuals are advised that they should not make an appointment with their general practitioner just to receive a mask.

Participation in this initiative is voluntary and chemists and general practitioners are not required to distribute masks.

Key points

This initiative is targeted to agencies that deliver services to Victorians who are vulnerable and are unable to afford or source their own 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 mask.

Masks will only be available through organisations that deliver services to vulnerable Victorians, such as disability service providers, home and community care services, and mental health services, some chemists and some general practitioners that choose to order and distribute masks. Distributing masks is voluntary.

Victoria’s Community Health Centres, Local Governments and other funded agencies that include disability service providers, home and community care services, mental health services and residential care providers can order masks to distribute. Community pharmacies and General Practice can also choose to deliver masks for their vulnerable patients.

Local governments can distribute masks to their vulnerable clients through the programs that they deliver like Home and Community Care programs and maternal health programs.

Orders from individual people are not accepted in this system. Individuals who consider that they meet the criteria for a mask are encouraged to talk to their support or case worker who will be able to order masks.

People can also talk to their local chemist or doctor and request that they order some masks. Participation in this initiative is voluntary and chemists and doctors are not required to distribute masks and may not be in an appropriate situation to do so.  Individuals are encouraged to call their pharmacist or doctor to ask if they have the masks and can request that these be ordered on their behalf.

Victorians who do not meet the eligibility criteria for masks can purchase one themselves, use other face coverings including scarves or bandanas, or make their own cloth masks.
 

On this page

Why is the Victorian Government distributing free reusable face masks?

The Victorian Government wants to protect those members of the community who may become sicker with coronavirus (COVID-19), or who may be less likely to have access to a face covering. 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 masks

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

Masks will be delivered directly by Australia Post.

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

If an organisation does not receive its full allocation in the first delivery, the original order is retained in the system. The remaining masks in the order will be distributed over the coming weeks until supply of masks is exhausted.

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

Agencies that have made an order for reusable masks but have only received disposable masks will not need to reorder the reusable masks.

What sort of masks are being distributed?

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

When will the reusable face masks become available?

Local manufacturers are working as quickly as possible to deliver the masks, but it will take some time for all the masks to be manufactured.  In the interim, to ensure that people can access masks as quickly as possible, single-use surgical masks are also being distributed.

The first orders of reusable face masks will commence delivery in August. It is estimated that masks will continue to be distributed over the next two months, or until all masks are distributed.

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 masks?

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

Why can’t individuals order these masks?

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

Do agencies need to check eligibility before providing a mask?

Service providers are expected to use their judgement in providing 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 masks from the program.

What about other people who do not meet the criteria?

People who are not eligible for these reusable masks should be advised that they need to purchase a masks from retailers, use other face coverings, such as scarves or bandanas, or make their own cloth masks.

How many 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.

Not all orders will be able to be fulfilled immediately, and agencies may only receive a portion of their order to begin with.

Where orders cannot be filled, agencies may receive an allocation of single-use disposable masks as an alternative. In these situations, a back order will be made for when reusable masks become available.

Agencies will not be required to reorder masks if they receive smaller quantities of the initial order or the alternative single-use masks.

Agencies will be notified if there are limits to the total number of masks to be received. This will be dependent on overall demand for reusable masks.

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

It may take up to 7 working days from the time an agency orders a mask to delivery time.

Australia Post will distribute the 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 masks are distributed widely?

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

How many masks can be provided per person?

Agencies are asked to limit the number of masks for each client or patient to two reusable masks.

Having two reusable masks ensures they can be rotated and washed.

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

Can agencies lodge orders for additional masks?

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

What happens if individuals break or lose their masks?

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

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

What advice should be provided when distributing the 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 masks prior to using them.

How can masks be distributed safely?

DHHS recommends for the distribution of masks to community members, the following processes are used:

At point Distribution:

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

Pre-Packing Masks:

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

Further Information

Further information can be obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services, Coronavirus website pages listed below

Face masks and coverings 
Face coverings: Whole of Victoria 
Translated resources - Coronavirus (Covid-19)