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Call for Australian leaders to wear masks to ‘normalise’ the practice


Holly Seale, a senior lecturer at the school of public health and community medicine at the University of New South Wales, says that if Australia’s leaders started wearing masks in public, it may encourage others to wear them.


Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has urged people in Melbourne to wear masks out in public if they are unable to maintain social distancing, although it’s not compulsory.


Dr Seale says that politicians wearing a mask could normalise the practice.


“That is one of the factors that we really have been relying on during this pandemic, is this sense of kind of normalising the behaviour, encouraging people to think that, yes, my friends are doing it, my family is doing it, but beyond that, my community is doing it, and that we are all in this together in that sense. So, yes, you know, if we are going to encourage this practice, you know, at press conferences where our leaders are in close contact with others, you know, we would expect them perhaps to start demonstrating this behaviour. And highlighting that it is an easy behaviour to adopt. Once you’ve got the resources — and there are now great guidelines out there about how to make your own masks — or you can jump online now and purchase a range of different product, you know, once we’ve got those in place, let’s see our leaders, those who are seen as kind of the movers and shakers in community, start to use these products, too.”


Dr Seale said there were a lot of demographic factors, like age and gender, and perceptions around people’s own health and how people will be perceived that can drive mask use.


“But what we know is that, you know, there is some good data out there that shows that, you know, people will wear the masks even if they think they are going to have some sort of negative consequence or communication, that, you know, if they believe it’s going to protect themselves and their community members, which is the rationale for why we are encouraging them, they will adopt this mask use.”



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