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Taking first aid to the streets

During National Homeless Persons' Week Red Cross is launching new ways of training vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians in first aid.

Tuesday August 7, 2012

Streetwise first Aid

Red Cross College is throwing out the textbooks and exiting the classroom to provide a new way of training vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians in first aid.

Streetwise First Aid had been designed for people with low literacy, limited income or who have had bad experiences with the education system. During National Homeless Persons' Week Red Cross is launching the training package which will increase disadvantaged people's access to learn potentially life-saving first aid skills.

In particular Streetwise First Aid targets those with experiences of homelessness because they can have barriers to accessing first aid training, despite being more exposed to situations where first aid could save a life.

The course was piloted with a group of people who were connected to a homelessness organisation in Adelaide and delivered in the local parklands. One of the participants, Darryl, went on to save a friend's life with the skills he learnt, after finding her unconscious.

"We put her in the recovery position so that she didn't swallow everything because she had gear in her mouth because she'd been drinking, and all the gear came out of her mouth and we kept an eye on her until the ambos got there," said Darryl. "She's okay now which is good. Because I knew what to do, we saved her."

Darryl advocates for people who are homeless to be trained in first aid. "Because of the situation with the homeless and drug use, alcohol abuse, if there's a situation that arises, you know what to do. I mean if you've got the skills to be able to help someone, to save someone's life, I'd say do it!"

Ian Coverdale, National Manager of Red Cross Social Inclusion Programs said the course is presented through story telling, acting, role playing, and discussion about people's experiences.
"We've worked really hard to take all of the reading and writing out of the course content, and designed it so it can be delivered in an informal and realistic environment, like a park or a public space, where people living on the streets might actually come across an incident that requires first aid," said Mr Coverdale.

The development of the Streetwise First Aid training package has been funded through the Red Cross innovation fund, which supports initiatives that staff and volunteers identify as being unique and valuable for vulnerable people. Red Cross will work with partner agencies and funding bodies to provide participants with a free national certification in first aid.

To learn more about Streetwise First Aid visit or call 1300 367 428.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Katie Isaac, media adviser, on 0408 858 255 or