Mask misinformation stops local teenager with disability getting learners permit

Daniel Andrews’ mixed messaging for face masks has seen a Gippsland teenager living with a disability refused the right to sit for his learner permit.

Last week in State Parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath called on the Minister for Roads and Road Safety to issue a clear directive on face mask exemptions to ensure this sort of discrimination does not occur again.

Ms Bath said Jacob Davison was turned away from VicRoads because he was not wearing a face mask despite having a medical exemption and carrying a letter from his specialist.

“Jacob was looking forward to learning to drive and continuing on his journey towards independence and adulthood.

“Upon arrival Jacob was left devastated when he was told VicRoads had a ‘no mask, no test’ policy and requested he step outside of the building due to coronavirus restrictions.

“After all the planning and preparation, the experience has left Jacob distressed and afraid to return.

“The Andrews Labor Government must provide consistent and clear directives to all state government departments about legal exemptions for its mask directive.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website clearly states a face mask is not required in certain circumstances, which include having a disability with risk factors.

Ms Bath said a learning to drive a car would be a big step towards achieving one of Jacob’s life goals, helping him on his journey to further study and independence.

“Denying a young person with disabilities who can’t wear a mask access to state government services is discriminatory and sends the wrong message.

Ms Bath said Jacob and his mum Kim contacted her seeking support and advocacy.

“Clearly the Andrews Government information on mask exemptions is not filtering to down to our state government agencies, causing distress in our community”, said Ms Bath.

“The family’s wish is to ensure no other person living with a disability has to experience this type of rejection, however unintended.

“Living with a disability is challenging, it’s essential we provide all people with disabilities with meaningful and inclusive opportunities which support them to reach their full potential.

“It’s essential Daniel Andrews policy directives and communications always support tolerance, acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities,” Ms Bath said.