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Cancer patient told to remove bandanna for licence photo

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 20 December, 2012 - 12:06 PM
Girls wearing Bandanna. (Photo: Andy Zakeli)

VicRoads has issued an apology to a woman currently in cancer remission who was told she could not wear a bandanna to cover her bald head while having her driver's licence photo taken.

Yesterday Travis Burns called the Mornings program with Justin Smith to say how staff at Hoppers Crossing VicRoads refused the request from his wife, Liz.

Peter Todd, Executive Director Registration and Licensing at VicRoads said the refusal was an error, and VicRoads' policy allows people to wear headwear in licence photos for both religious or medical reasons.

"VicRoads would like to apologise unreservedly for what has occurred in this case," Mr Todd said in a statement.

"VicRoads policy is that a licence photo does not show the person wearing any head covering, except those wearing religious headgear (providing it does not obscure the face) or who have a medical condition or who are undergoing medical treatment." 

Mr Burns told Justin Smith they had tried to escalated the issue, but a supervisor reiterated the VicRoads’ staff member’s refusal to allow the photograph be taken with a bandanna.

"She was crying and I asked to speak to the supervisor, and they said 'No, you've got to take it off'," he said.

"I’m not being racist… (but) how come a Muslim can wear a hijab or a Punjab can wear a turban?"

"It's just over the bald parts of her head, covering her head."

Mr Todd said they have made a personal apology to the woman, and staff have been counselled to 'reinforce' the licence photo policy.

"We have also today issued a state-wide reminder to all customer service centre staff about the licence photo policy to make sure this does not happen again," he said.

LISTEN: 'Travis' speaks with Justin Smith:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • @Jane; Clearly, the problem IS with VicRoads. Businesses are responsible for the proper training of all their personnel who have dealings with customers on behalf of the business. This customer has every right to be upset and angry, and she should be adequately compensated for her pain and suffering.

    Jo Tuesday 25 December, 2012 - 7:27 AM
  • Hi to all thank you for all your support i hope that the situation i was put in never happens to anyone. Jane Im aware of what you are saying about the one person who served me at vic roads but thats not wear it stopped my first contact was with vic roads customer serviee on the phone who advised me that i couldnt wear it then when i went into.the office again we were told i couldnt wear it and this was confirmed by a superviser so again i think the issue isnt with one person its with the training that is provided to these people. I hope that in your life time you nevet have to deal with this because its not only embarressing but once you remove that one thing that stops people from judging you you will never know how it made me feel.

    elizabeth burns Monday 24 December, 2012 - 6:17 PM
  • Before people get over emotional let's look at the facts: VicRoads policy is "...that a licence photo does not show the person wearing any head covering, except those ... who have a medical condition or who are undergoing medical treatment." Clearly the problem is not with VIcRoads just the one individual who did not know the policy properly. Talk about a mob mentality from listeners and other posters.

    Jane Saturday 22 December, 2012 - 5:05 PM
  • Cannot beleive VIC Roads Staff did this most insensitive act to this women, as a Breast Cancer survivior, this story brought tears to my eyes. If they had taken the photo of her & put it on her license, evrytime she looked at it, it would have been a reminder of what she is going though!! Pull your socks up VIC Roads!!!

    Sheryl Saturday 22 December, 2012 - 11:21 AM
  • Elizabeth Burns is my twin sister. What VicRoad did to her is disgusting and appalling. If they think an apology makes things better they are wrong. My sister was humiliated having to take off her bandana in front of a busy ViCRoads office. What kills me is that after taking the photo with no bandana and having tears in her eyes the customer service officer asked her if she wants to see the photo. That's appalling I say. Anyways I'm gonna stop ranting now.

    Claire Hanna Friday 21 December, 2012 - 5:33 PM
  • As a retaired driving instructor of 29 years I can honestly say that Vic roads incompetence
    is absolutely breath taking

    Ross Friday 21 December, 2012 - 4:25 PM

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