Public defiance over face masks a menace to all  

2 August 2022

The ANMF (SA Branch) is deeply disappointed to hear reports of people breaking face mask rules while visiting hospitals and abusing health care workers who ask them to wear masks as mandated in health care settings.

“One of the easiest things people can do is put a mask on,’’ ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM told ABC South-East Radio.

“When you are putting on a mask you are not only helping other people, you are also helping yourself to stay protected and free from harm. So it is very disappointing, although sadly not surprising. 

“In fact, that is one of the reasons we have launched our own television campaign encouraging the community to act with kindness towards health care professionals during this difficult time, but also to help protect themselves and their friends and family by wearing masks, doing the hand sanitising and keeping those social distances between people (view the commercial here). 

“It is very concerning because there is a genuine and legitimate reason for wearing those masks in those health facilities. Once again, it is not just about yourself or even your immediate loved one, but it is about all of the other people within the facility, many of whom have very, very serious illnesses and are immunocompromised. For some people an infection may be relatively minor, but for people who are already unwell, it can be catastrophic.’’

Asked whether she like to see mask mandates reintroduced in general public settings, Ms Dabars said the ANMF (SA Branch) understood the hesitation on the part of the Government to reintroduce those types of mandates more broadly. 

“We have every empathy for the broader community because we know it has been a significant impost, an imposition. Obviously we would like people to voluntarily engage in that kind of behaviour that keeps themselves safe and keeps their community safe,’’ she said.

“We have drawn short of asking for those mandates to be reimposed, but only on the basis that we understand that the Government is seeking additional staffed beds.

“And so we have been pressing this Government and they have been receptive to our advocacy about partnering with the private sector to obtain additional capacity, additional beds, but most importantly, additional staff by partnering with them. 

Due to our advocacy, 107 extra private beds were last week secured across South Australia’s public health system to help ease the crushing demand.

“It is not only those additional beds, but the staff attached to those beds which should provide some relief that the health system desperately needs,” Ms Dabars said.