School photos ban backlash
A GEELONG photographer is calling on the state government to reconsider rules prohibiting school pictures from being taken on reopened Victorian campuses, warning families would miss out on the cherished mementos.
Arthur Reed Photos chief executive Jason Butcher said families of students in milestone years - prep, Grade 6, Year 7 and 12 - would be hardest hit by a year without school photos.
"We estimate that 500,000 Victorian schoolchildren are yet to be photographed in 2020. Time is running out," Mr Butcher said. "If the decision is overturned shortly then, as an industry, we will ensure all are photographed.
"All other states within Australia have been able to facilitate the taking of school photos safely and without incident, Victoria is the only state which is depriving families and schools of these special memories. Especially the important milestone years of prep, Grade 6, Year 7 and Year 12.
"School photos are used as gifts and especially during a time when (extended) families have been separated for extended periods of time."
Arthur Reed Photos has been synonymous with school photos in the Geelong region since its launch in 1960, and should have spent 2020 celebrating its 60-year milestone, instead it has stood down 70 staff.
Mr Butcher said he was fortunate enough to have school photos taken of his Grade 6 daughter earlier in the year, but now felt for the parents that may miss out on the same special memory.
School photos have been banned on school sites under the new rules covering the reopening of schools since COVID-19 caused statewide closures, with authorities now banning anyone without an essential reason from entering school grounds.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said visitors to school grounds were "limited to those delivering or supporting essential school services and operations, including student health and wellbeing services, safety, cleaning and maintenance workers to reduce the movement of people to an absolute minimum". "The restrictions are in place to bring down cases to as low as possible to reduce the risk of transmission," she said.
A petition launched this week calling on the State Government to overturn the ban has almost 10,000 signatures.
Originally published as School photos ban backlash