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New CHSP requirements for volunteer first aid training

Recent updates in the March 2021 Program Manual for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) now require CHSP-funded organisations to take a risk-based approach to the matter of volunteers needing accredited training in first aid.

This issue first came to light through a newsletter published by the Department of Health in October 2020 which said that CHSP providers are responsible for ensuring staff and volunteers in direct care roles received accredited first aid training and certification. The newsletter also listed direct care roles where it said this was required, which included wide ranging implications for social supports, transport and even meal provision.

After advocacy from a number of organisations and in response to the government newsletter, a report was written in December 2020 by SA Collaborative Projects and Volunteering SA/NT titled Impact of Mandatory First Aid for volunteers on the South Australian Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) Sector. This report represented survey results from 43 CHSP providers.

Subsequently, the government requirements were refined and a risk based approach became embedded in an amended section 6.1.4 on Staffing and Training.

The new March 2021 section of the CHSP Program Manual requires providers comply with the following:


First Aid Training

To help support vulnerable, older Australians, all CHSP service providers are responsible for ensuring staff and volunteers in direct care roles receive accredited first aid training and certification as soon as practicable.

The department regards the cost of first aid training as a reasonable and necessary expense of safe and effective aged care service delivery. As such, CHSP providers should factor the cost of first aid training into their existing grant funding in the same way as rent, utilities, personal protective equipment and staff wages.

It is the responsibility of CHSP providers to factor the level and appropriateness of first aid training needs into their business risk management plan. In considering the level of training offered to staff and volunteers, CHSP service providers should consider the specific needs of their clients and any additional risk factors they may present (e.g. dementia; falls risk; other disabilities, health problems or co-morbidities).

It is the responsibility of individual service providers to factor into their business risk management strategies how many and which staff/volunteers need to hold and maintain First Aid Training qualifications to ensure the safe delivery of services to their clients.



The term “direct care roles” is not defined in the CHSP Manual. The Department of Health provided further direction via email on 26 March 2021 with FAQs last updated 25 February 2021 which stated: “The Department considers any staff or volunteers with direct responsibility for and prolonged face-to-face contact or physical exposure to a client as engaged in direct care.” [emphasis added]

There are many reasons why it might not be possible or appropriate for all volunteers to undertake accredited first aid training, which would typically include a requirement for that individual to complete two minutes of CPR unassisted. In our experience and as outlined in the earlier referenced report, volunteers express concerns about undertaking the accredited training due to their age, mobility, fitness and confidence.

Given this, the new section on first aid training provides a framework for CHSP funded organisations to assess which of their volunteers do or do not need first aid training.

Recently, CBB worked with a client who was impacted by this change and have supported them to look through a risk based approach to determine which of their volunteers require first aid training, and how that overlays with staff who are already trained.

This project considered the range of activities where volunteers are involved – including meals, transport, social supports and group programs. The risk based approach also identified opportunities to improve certain practices.

I have been in a number of strategy workshops over the years where not for profit leaders talk about the ongoing increase in compliance and regulations. This is one example of such, but it can be successfully managed by organisations who take the right approach to risk management.

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  • Tags: aged care