You don’t.  That’s the simple truth.  Nobody in Australia HAS to hold a current First Aid certificate.  However… if the only way you can hold down a job is to comply with your employment conditions and your employment conditions state you “must hold a First Aid certificate” then it is your DUTY to renew it.  It’s not a law.  You, in fact, don’t have to work in that job.  You can work any job anywhere and if they don’t ask you to hold a First Aid certificate, then don’t.  Simple.  It’s a choice that you have.  You can choose to learn First Aid through a proper training organisation to improve your own skills or as part of updating your resume, it can be because your boss wants you to or you want to be the First Aid attendant for your kid’s netball team.  It’s always a choice.

There is much written and spoken about “currency” and “expiry” that is misunderstood at best and straight out misleading at worst.  If your certificate says “Expires on …..”, that’s wrong.  If it says “Valid to….” that’s wrong.  What is should say is “We recommend you refresh your skills every ….. years”.

A training organisation that urges you to renew your certificate because it is “no longer valid” or “has expired” or “you can’t do First Aid without a current certificate” is simply having a lend of you and trying to drive up sales.  The plain facts are:

  • You learn First Aid from a qualified trainer who works for a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). 
  • That trainer and the RTO must meet specific quality tests to ensure what you are being taught is valid, appropriate, complete and up to date. 
  • During that training, you will undergo a range of assessments to make sure you meet what is called a “competency” standard.  The trainer is required to make sure that “competency” is the same for everyone and meets a standard definition of competency for that particular skill.  For example: Competency in performing CPR includes being able to provide compressions and ventilations on an adult manikin on the floor uninterrupted for 2 minutes.  That CPR skill must be at the recommended speed, to the recommended depth and in the recommended place on the chest.  Everyone must meet this competency to be able to earn their certificate.  It’s up to the trainer to coach you to this level of skill and then to assess you at that skill.
  • Once you have achieved all your competencies, you receive your certificate.  This means you are competent in providing First Aid.  But it doesn’t say for how long you’ll be competent.  You may be competent for years because you do it all the time or you may forget it all next month and not have a clue.
  • Your certificate doesn’t say you’ll be competent for the next three years, it simply says you were competent on the day and we hope you retain those skills.  However, we’d like you to come back in three years to retrain because the industry as a whole feels that three years is a long time and you forget stuff.
  • And stuff changes.  Stuff always changes.  If you come back every three years, you can keep up to date.
  • You can do First Aid the day before you are trained, the day after you are trained or ten years after you were trained.  There is no law regulating who can do First Aid.  As long as you show respect to a casualty, observe Australia’s consent laws, don’t break any local or state laws, don’t do anything dangerous or stupid, just reach out and offer help, then you are doing First Aid.  With or without a certificate.
  • At the end of the three years, nothing has expired.  Nothing.  There is no “expiry date” on a First Aid certificate.  There is no “validity” on a First Aid certificate.  There is no “currency” on a First Aid certificate, there is only currency on your knowledge and skills.  The industry standard is an expectation that you renew your knowledge and skills within three years and we’d love to see you back at that time because we’ll have some exciting new things to show you.
  • And we’ll give you a new certificate if you’re competent.

Science.  It’s a thing.  They learn.  We learn.  You learn.  New discoveries are happening all the time.  If doctors still treated cancer with leeches you’d be thinking they’re a touch out of date wouldn’t you?  You’d want your medical professional to be in touch with the latest in technologies, procedures, ideas. 

Why not expect the same from the First Aid industry?  Today’s First Aid trainer is expected to be a specialist in their field.  And a specialist is obliged to study, to research, to refresh and stay up to date.  Teaching things the way you do because that’s the way you always have is not good for anyone.  When you learn First Aid you should expect to receive leading edge information from some of the best sources around the world.  

Of course all First Aid training must be based on the guidelines issued by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) but you would expect the ARC to stay up to date with developments around the world and how they fit into the world of First Aid.  As these developments appear, they are incorporated into the current ARC Guidelines and we teach them to you.

Example:  40 years ago, compressions were done at a speed of 60 per minute a total of 5 compressions followed by 1 breath.  Research showed that this wasn’t fast enough or long enough so it increased to 15 compressions followed by 2 breaths at a speed of about 100 per minute.  Again, research showed that this still wasn’t enough.  Today, it is known that deep compressions at a speed of 120 per minute don’t start producing effective circulation until around pump 17 so you need to continue to pump to keep the blood flowing.  After 30 pumps, you ideally should now deliver 2 breaths but if you take too long breathing, you lose all that built-up pressure.

Research: things change.

How long can you hold your breath?


How can any human possibly survive on blood circulation alone?  We need air.  We need air to keep our cells alive and we need air to come into the body regularly to flush out the bad stuff that is accumulating inside.  Yes, some ambulance services will – over the phone – give instructions in compression-only CPR simply because it’s too hard to teach the breathing safely in a crisis.

The breathing component of resuscitation is complex and difficult to teach without proper training aids like manikins.  The skill, if not performed properly can cause a range of problems for the casualty and reduce the chances of surviving this resuscitation event.

If the 000 operator advises you to do compressions only, they are hoping that shortly, someone will come along who knows how to do the breathing.

We advise rescuers avoid skin-to-skin contact with strangers until a shield or mask is available.  In this situation, breathing would be delayed but never abandoned.

A facial injury may prevent breaths being delivered, physical access to a casualty’s face may prevent it, blood or vomit may prevent it, but the chances of that casualty surviving a CPR event without rescue breaths diminishes with every minute.

The chances of that casualty surviving a CPR event without rescue compressions diminishes with every second.

Trainers who teach no-breathing CPR are not following the ARC’s Guidelines.


The current range of Units of Competency (UOC) for the First Aid sector include HLTAID009 (CPR) through to HLTAID015 (Manage First Aid).  All of these units were introduced in 2021.  

If you have trained under the older units such as HLTAID001 (CPR) or HLTAID003 (First Aid), these are still valid and will remain so until your recommended refresher dates.  Any refresher training you do will be under the updated units.

In the mean time, any training you have completed under older HLTAID UOCs will be remain valid and should be accepted by all workplaces.


Training skills isn’t something that can be accomplished online.  Training theory, yes this is possible.  First Aid training is a combination of both theory and skill, so modern training companies will offer a blended course, a combination of home study online followed by a practical face-to-face session and assessment.

The First Aid Training Company, based in Mayfield (Newcastle)

“The Gateway – Steel River Estate”
Unit 19, 5-7 Channel Road, Mayfield West NSW 2304
Ph: 02 4960 8608
ABN: 99 627 156 987