More family carers will be able to undertake first aid courses thanks to a $114,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government.

St John Ambulance will use the funding to design and administer a practical course specifically tailored to the needs of family carers supporting elderly or disabled residents.

The money is being provided through the National Respite for Carers Program.

Carers will receive training in first aid that will help them with the skills for responding to cardiac arrest, fractures and wounds, abnormal sugar levels, choking, shock and asthma.

The Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot said she knows “first hand” about the benefits of first aid training.

“As a former police officer I know how important it is to receive first aid emergency training from St. John Ambulance,” she said.

“Effective and practical first aid treatment can save lives. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation can make the difference between a near miss and tragedy.

Existing respite care programs would allow the carers to take the time to attend the one-day workshop.

“This course is a first step and it will be designed for people voluntarily caring for frail elderly or disabled relatives or friends,” said Mrs Elliot.

“The flexible model would allow carers to take the first aid course using workbooks, a CD-ROM or online, followed by [a] practical workshop,” Mrs Elliot said.

Mrs Elliot acknowledged that carers play an important role in society.

“This is about supporting them so they can continue to care for loved ones,” she said.

Carers Australia welcomed the announcement but the group’s CEO, Joan Hughes said carers needed more training support.

“In its last two budget submissions Carers Australia has asked the government to look at a national education and training program for carers with one element being first aid,” she said.

“We know that many family carers are often thrown into caring role without any real knowledge about how to care. They have to learn ‘on the job’.

There are 2.6 million carers across this nation and even though we welcome these small grants they always have to be ongoing.”

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