A Pinjarra couple say they "feel like they are living in Nazi Germany" after police visited their home two days in a row asking to see their COVID face mask exemptions.
Ryan Overfield and Taneel Clark both have exemptions due to health conditions and were reported for not wearing a mask to their local petrol station.
Their ordeal began on Wednesday when Ms Clark went to get fuel and was confronted by the attendant.
She told him she was exempt - she suffers anxiety and other conditions - and the attendant wanted to see proof.
Ms Clark told him he had no right to ask her medical history or proof as it breached the Privacy Act 1988.
"Nowhere in the COVID directive does it state you need to carry papers," Mr Overfield said.
It's not up to us to prove our medical condition to anyone - this is what the police and government and everyone need to understand.
She noticed the attendant writing down her car number plate so the couple braced for the worst.
At 5.15pm on Thursday police arrived at their family home - where they were cooking dinner with five children at home - asking for reasons for not wearing a mask.
"We both stated that we do not need to disclose medical information to anyone," Mr Overfield said.
"The conversation continued for around five minutes. I got sick of it. I told them they are trespassing and to leave and they did."
They thought that was the end of it until at 5pm police returned, again asking for their reasons for not wearing a mask.
Mr Overfield captured some of the latest interaction on video which has been circulating on social media.
One of the officers asks to read something out and proceeds to quote:
"Under the relevant directions, you are exempt from wearing a face mask..." and he reads out the conditions.
"I'm entitled to ask you to provide medical evidence...although you are not required to produce such evidence, if you do not do so I can aptly satisfy that you have a medical condition that makes wearing a face covering uncomfortable...in requesting this information I am not acting in contrary to the Disability Act or any other law."
Ms Clark shows her exemption but gets angry when they write down and record her details.
"You guys have no authority to be here harassing people, please do not come back again..." Mr Overfield says in the video. "This is harassment for a law that can not be upheld...a mandate is not law."
"I would like my evidence back because I legally do not have to disclose this to you," Ms Clark tells the officers.
When speaking to the Mail later, Mr Overfield said they were home with five children, including a sensitive five-year-old daughter who was born without a thyroid and a seven-year-old son who was left crying each time.
Both times they've come when we've clearly got dinner cooking...I'm a really good cook and you can smell it down the road...all over a $1000 fine that wouldn't even apply to us.
"We are very distressed as they have no right or authority to be harassing people like this," Mr Overfield said.
"Both times they've come when we've clearly got dinner cooking...I'm a really good cook and you can smell it down the road...all over a $1000 fine that wouldn't even apply to us.
"I understand a lot of people agree with a mask but when you're exempt, you're exempt. I've read the directive, I've read the Biosecurity Act. I'm really wised up on my law."
After losing his job as a manager for Sizzler during the height of COVID in Western Australia last year, he says he has spent many hours studying law and while he's not a lawyer, he "knows his rights".
"Since when do you have to prove that you're innocent," he said. "It's not up to us to prove our medical condition to anyone - this is what the police and government and everyone need to understand."
From Saturday, people in Perth and the Peel region will only be required to wear face masks on public transport, at events with more than 1000 people and in hospitals, disability care and aged care facilities.
Masks can trigger previous experiences
The Blue Knot Foundation, which deals with complex trauma, has explained that masks can trigger previous experiences for survivors.
Foundation president Cathy Kezelman told AAP masks may reignite feelings of not being able to breathe for trauma survivors, including for people who had been through the recent bushfires. Others may have been assaulted by a person wearing a mask, or masks may bring up the feeling of being trapped and helpless, she said.
Likewise, Asthma Australia said there were a number of issues that could arise for people with asthma, with 55 per cent of respondents to a recent survey saying they had experienced breathing difficulties wearing a face covering, while a third said it made their asthma flare up.
Around one in eight respondents said they experienced negative reactions from the public when not wearing a face mask.
You are not required to wear a mask if you:
- Have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable (for example, a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma).
You may remove your mask when you are:
- Eating or drinking
- Communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
- Asked to remove your mask for identity purposes.
- You may also remove your mask for the proper provision of goods or services, for example, if you are having a facial or beard trim.