Victorian nurses leading the way in accessible infant and child first aid

Board Director Kate Lambert was a finalist in the 2023 Westfield Local Heroes program

Victorian paediatric critical care nurse Grace Larson has joined forces with her sister Skye helping provide free infant and child first aid to disadvantaged parents and carers in the state.

Still in its early days, The Sisterhood Project is partnering with accredited first aid providers to offer free infant and child first aid training to parents and carers that can’t otherwise afford it.

Grace Larson, a paediatric intensive care nurse of 15 years, also runs her own business providing courses on paediatric deterioration including to other healthcare professionals.

It was only when she branched out to teaching in the community that she noticed that only those with means had the opportunity to access specialised baby and child first aid courses.

“Throughout my career I have seen firsthand the huge impact knowing first aid can have on the survival of infants and children. I have also seen the unfair disadvantage many low income and vulnerable parents have when it comes to affording this training.”

Skye (L) and Grace Larson

While first aid training is widely available in Victoria, it can be very expensive. First aid courses start at around $90 and some can be as high as $140.

“For some people, that cost is far too high when they can barely afford to pay for housing, food and other essential items,” Grace said.

Knowing the impact this training and skill has on the outcomes of children, Grace was passionate about finding a way to end the disparity. In 2022, she approached her sister Skye, a public relations, media and communications consultant to try and start a charity to apply for grants to provide these courses for free – and The Sisterhood Project was born.

The all-women Sisterhood Project Board of Directors are predominantly nurses with extensive paediatric and emergency/critical care experience. Board Directors include Annie Carr, an Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery; along with RN Kate Lambert and Paediatric Nurse Unit Manager Simone Danaher.

Grace and Skye Larson are no strangers the intricacies of healthcare access and provision – with their mum a nurse, brother a paramedic and father works in healthcare administration.

The Sisterhood Project Board: Left to right Annie Carr, Skye Larson, Grace Larson, Simone Danaher, and Kate Lambert

Both mothers themselves, Grace and Skye believe first aid knowledge should be available to everyone, no matter their financial means.

“By providing free infant and child first aid courses to vulnerable and low-income mothers, families and carers we are empowering them to know what to do in an emergency.

The first few minutes following an accident are critical. First aid can provide parents with the skills to stabilise their child until emergency medical services arrive, and could prevent rapid deterioration, ultimately saving their life. This knowledge can significantly improve infant and child survival rates and save lives,” said Grace.

Childhood injury and illness prevalence is three to five times greater for those living rural and remote, in lower socioeconomic areas, with low levels of English literacy and those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds (AIHW, 2022).

The Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit’s Hazard report reveals that child (0-14 years) injury related death rates in outer regional areas of Victoria are four times higher than those in major cities.

While first aid training is widely available in Victorian cities, it is less so in regional and remote areas of Victoria, said Grace.

“If we increase the number of parents and carers with this knowledge, particularly in rural areas, we can save many children’s lives and limit preventable accidents,” Grace said.

“Our specific target is around those groups who have the lowest access and yet statistics show are at highest risk of injury and illness. So we can make a real difference in the outcome of childhood injuries,” she said.

We hope parents and carers never need to use these skills, but they have them if something does happen.”

“Children deteriorate very quickly, they compensate for a long time. So a child who is unwell is critical. If you get to the point of cardiac arrest in a child, it is rare and deadly. It’s imperative to know how to do CPR.

The Sisterhood Project is a registered charity received a NAB Foundation Grant and is actively looking for funders to help scale up the project.

If you would like to support The Sisterhood Project email:

The Sisterhood Project

Facebook @the.sisterhood.project22

Instagram @the.sisterhoodproject

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