21 November 2023

Roadside first aid courses now on offer for Canberra learner drivers

| Claire Fenwicke
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L plate on rear window

Canberra learner drivers can now also take up a first aid program to count towards their mandatory logbook hours. Photo: Veronica Todaro.

A dream of the ACT’s former Senior Australian of the Year has been realised, with driver first aid programs now available to Canberrans who are getting their licence.

Learner drivers will be able to claim five hours on their logbooks against their required 100 hours if they undertake a basic first aid course.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said this would equip drivers with the skills needed to assist if they’re involved in or come across a crash on our roads.

“The first people on the scene of a collision are often other drivers, so ensuring more drivers have a basic understanding of first aid could make a big difference to those involved in the crash,” he said.

“The program won’t just provide the skills that could save a life; it is a reminder to the next generation of drivers of the serious consequences that crashes have on our roads.”

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First aid courses for learner drivers have long been a dream of Canberran and 2022 Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey, whose daughter had been involved in a fatal car accident.

“Her dear friend was killed, and she remembers very clearly from the accident, people stepping up and saying ‘we want to help’ but not knowing what to do,” Ms Dempsey has previously explained.

“I don’t want to see anyone else having the same feelings as those people who stopped and wanted to help my daughter at her accident. I can’t possibly imagine how that must’ve felt.”

Valmai Dempsey has been championing the initiative for many years. Photo: Supplied.

There are eight courses to choose from, which vary from online, face-to-face or a combination of both. The course only counts towards your logbook if it is offered through an approved provider.

The providers are:

  • St John Ambulance ACT: driver first aid (free), provide first aid (paid) and provide CPR (paid)
  • Aspen Medical: ACT learner driver first aid course (paid)
  • Allens Training: roadside safety awareness for learner drivers (paid), roadside safety CPR (paid), roadside safety first aid (paid)
  • CBD College: provide first aid (paid)

To be eligible for the five credit hours under the new program, you must hold your learner licence for at least three months before completing any approved courses.

Each course’s time commitment and cost varies depending on the type and depth of content delivered, and all courses are optional.

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The new learner driver first aid program builds on existing training available for learner drivers, including the Vulnerable Road User Program (which offers a 10-hour credit for completing the course) and the Safer Driver Course (for drivers aged under 25, offers 20-hours credit)

“Together, these programs provide young learner drivers under 25 years with up to 35 hours credit towards the 100 mandatory hours, and provide them with skills that could potentially save lives,” Mr Steel said.

Research is also being undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology, with $45,000 in funding from the ACT Road Safety Fund, to see if first aid courses should be mandatory for learner drivers across Australia.

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