Page 525 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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Realistically, 80 per cent of sudden cardiac arrest cases come down to bystanders. It is incumbent upon us, as policymakers and local members, to set our community up for success. I reflect that it would benefit us as a government to have a comprehensive review of where our defibrillators are and how many we have. Making sure that all of our ACT government defibrillators are registered and recorded is a good starting point as we continue to build on our existing supply.

We should also be equipping our community with the skills and confidence to handle the situation when they find themselves supporting someone in cardiac arrest. I applaud those organisations that are already offering this lifesaving training—St John, Canberra First Aid and Training, ACTWell and others.

I will borrow the words of our 2022 Senior Australian of the Year, Ms Valmai Dempsey:

I would like to see a time when all bystanders have the first aid training, competence and confidence to put those skills to use in those vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.

Practice makes the difference in a crisis. While defibrillators come with instructions and are designed to be used by people with no training, hands-on experience could save the life of someone going into sudden cardiac arrest. I would encourage every person in this place and every person that engages with us to take up those first aid courses when they come on offer. Nothing brings more peace of mind than preparation, and your proactiveness now could make all the difference in a critical situation. The better equipped we are and the more we support our community in being prepared for first aid, the more lives we can save.

I encourage the ACT government to continue to improve on our defibrillator network, and I urge all Canberrans to take up first aid training opportunities and stay alert to the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. I note, in particular, the perfectly good timing of Ms Castley’s motion, while the Standing Committee on Education and Community Inclusion continues to deliberate on our school infrastructure and maintenance inquiry. I suspect this may be a useful topic of conversation for the committee in later days.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.10): I am really shocked, to be honest. This was not a big one—a tough one. It is about saving lives and, honestly, a great deal of contempt has been shown. The health minister’s office called my office and said that an amendment would be circulated at 9.45, but, no, it was circulated while I was speaking.

This is not just a topic for consideration; it is a topic for action. It is great that teachers and people in government workplaces have first aid training, but what is the point of that if they do not have the tools to help save lives? It is like a fireman with a truck but no hose. The Chief Minister wants to have a progressive government. This is something we can lead the nation on—saving lives. Is that not progressive enough?

Far out! This is not a toughie! If it is about money, the cost for the schools that do not have it, at two and a half grand a pop, would amount to less than $130,000—less than

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