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St John first aid training - socially distanced

When it comes to first aid and community resilience, we hoped there would be better progress. Particularly with the last few years showing the need for everyone in the community to be better prepared to respond in an emergency. After all, more members of the community knowing first aid and ready to use their skills means we are all safer.

St John Ambulance recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 Australians adults to track our progress towards our goal of a more people trained and confident to provide first aid. The results were more shocking than expected, particularly in Victoria.


Key findings

While 72% of Australians have witnessed a health or medical emergency at some point in their lives, less than half (47%) are confident in their ability to provide first aid in these situations. In Victoria, nearly 3 in 5 Victorian adults, or 56%, do not feel confident in a first aid emergency, leaving only 44% of us confident to provide first aid.

Confidence to provide first aid is heavily influenced by whether the individual had undertaken first aid training – and if they have, how recently their training took place. The Safe Work Australia First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice  recommends CPR training should be completed annually and first aid training should be completed every 3 years.

It goes without saying that first aid training outside of the workplace, for example for parents and carers, should be just as frequent, however this is currently unregulated.

Nearly three in four (72%) Australians have undertaken first aid training before – however, only 36% have done training in the past 3 years. Victoria lags 5 points behind, with only 31% of Victorian adults having received training in the last 3 years.

The effects of up-to-date first aid training is significant: with 75% of those who have undergone training in the last 3 years confident to administer first aid, compared to only 32% of those who have undergone training more than 3 years ago, or have never received training at all.

Victoria ranks among the lowest in the country

Victorians are some of the least confident first aiders in the country, with less than half (44%) of Victorians feeling confident to provide first aid in an emergency – trailing just behind Queensland (42%). Victoria also ranked second-lowest in terms first aid training recency.

Notable differences in responses

Gender and generational differences are found to influence the role of first aid and how it is perceived. In the last 3 years, nearly 3 in 5 (57%) men have witnessed a health or medical emergency, compared to less than half of women (48%). Similarly, men are more likely to say they are confident in providing first aid during these situations (57% of men compared to 44% of women).

Baby Boomers are less likely than their younger counterparts to have ever witnessed an emergency, and are the least likely generation to have provided first aid. On the same note, working Australians are more likely than those who are retired or not working to have witnessed a health or medical emergency, and to have provided first aid in these situations.

In fact, compared to 50% of working adults, 59% of retired Australians and 62% of those not working say they are not confident in providing first aid. Workplaces are clearly a positive influence on the state of first aid knowledge in Australia, a role we commend them for.


A call to action

These results should be considered a conversation starter, not necessarily a cause for alarm, but certainly cause for concern. It also highlights the ongoing importance of first aid for all, and identifies the gaps that need to be filled.

By attending first aid training and keeping our skills and knowledge up-to-date, we all can play our part in creating a safer, more resilient Victoria. St John Ambulance Victoria offers a variety of options – both accredited and non-accredited – to suit your needs.

If you are interested in a comprehensive course, consider our range of accredited courses that include HLTAID011 PROVIDE FIRST AID and HLTAID009 PROVIDE CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION. Alternatively, you might want a more tailored non-accredited course like CARING FOR BABIES AND KIDS or ASTHMA & ANAPHYLAXISeLearning is a convenient option too!

To learn first aid in a fun and casual environment, check out CPR Lab, a free community program where you can learn the lifesaving skill of CPR in just 10 minutes. And as part of our latest roll-out of Defib In Your Street, St John is offering free accredited and non-accredited CPR lessons in the 3021 postcode.

Browse our range of courses to see which suits you best!


Suitable for both people in workplaces and members of the public who would like a comprehensive first aid course.

St John first aid training


Learn the skills to perform life-saving (CPR) on an adult, child or infant who is unconscious and not breathing normally. 


St John has a range of​ training locations across Victoria.