Centrelink apology on helmet ‘weapon’

Centrelink has apologised for asking a client to take their motorcycle helmet outside as it was considered a weapon and says it is not their policy.

The official statement comes more than a week after it was revealed that David McDowell was refused entry to Centrelink in Maryborough on June 26, 2017, because his motorcycle helmet was considered a weapon.

David told us a Centrelink manager rang him to apologise, but he said he wanted an apology from the security company.

After we published the article, other readers said they had also been told to take their helmet outside at Centrelink offices in Brisbane.

Official statement

However, a Department of Human Services spokesperson has told us in an official statement that is not an official Centrelink policy.

“The department does not have a policy which bans a person from bringing a motorcycle helmet into a service centre,” the spokesperson said.

“The safety of our staff and people in our service centres is of paramount importance, and the department has a range security procedures and policies in place to ensure this occurs.

“This includes staff having an awareness of items brought into service centres that may potentially be used as a weapon, and the discretion to ask for them to be removed, if appropriate.”

David as he was dressed at Centrelink

David said a security guard asked him to leave his helmet outside as it was classed as a weapon.

“They wanted me to leave my helmet in the foyer, but I have several helmets and my Shoei Hornet cost over $1000. I’m not going to leave them unattended to be stolen,” he said.

“I objected and stuck my digs until they threatened to get the police and I thought ‘I don’t have the money or the time for this’.

“I was flabbergasted. I was also embarrassed because I was made to feel like a criminal. It’s not as if I’m a bikie type, either.”

David said he accepted the department’s apology, but thought it was “not good enough” that the security company did not apologise.

He says his treatment was discriminatory and the “thin edge of the wedge”.

“We can’t wear helmets when we fill up with petrol. What’s next?

“I told them that if I had a bag with bricks in it or a skateboard it would be more of a weapon than a helmet. They told me they were trying to get bags banned, too.