I was asked today’s question by a national first aid provider but I’ll base my answer on NSW law. The question is
Is parental/guardian consent required for participants undertaking first aid training? For example we currently have an under 18s consent form whereby any participant who is undertaking nationally accredited first aid training must have the form completed by a parent/guardian prior to training. We are considering removing this if appropriate. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
The first thing to consider is that this is a very broad question. A person under 18 ranges from 0 to 17 years and 364 days. The answer when providing first aid training to 12 year old school children might be different than when providing training to 17 year old apprentices.
Under the Minors (Property and Contracts) Act 1970 (NSW) a minor can enter a contract and is bound by the contract provided that the contract is ‘is for his or her benefit at the time’. One might infer that first aid training is for the young person’s benefit but where there is an obligation to pay a fee that could become controversial. Is paying a $300 fee to get first aid training a contract for the young person’s benefit? Without going into details, if you want to ensure you can enforce the agreement to get paid for services one would want to ensure that there was some sort of consent or guarantee from the young person’s parent.
Providing first aid training for children would be ‘child related work’ so a trainer would require a working with children check (Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW)). That would give some indication that it’s something the parents should know that there children are going to be involved.
At the end of the day it’s a risk assessment. What’s the risk? You won’t get paid; parents who didn’t know that first aid training was going to happen are upset to find their child was touched and bandaged; the child has a medical or other condition that is actually an impediment to their training and you should know about; you need to ensure the child is appropriately dressed and they and their parents understand what is going to be expected from them.
If participants are all at school, it may be the school has all the relevant consents and authorities. If they have all left school and are tertiary or trade students with some aged 18 and some not yet 18 it may be silly to ask their parents for consent when they are living independently. Equally if training is being provided to young people as part of a course for homeless youth it would be pointless asking for parental consent, and if they’re living rough, there would be no guardian to consent either. As noted it’s really an exercise in risk management and the trainers must determine what are the risks and that will vary with the target audience/market.
I note that I have not addressed legislation governing Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) for example the Vocational and Training Act 2005 (NSW) and the Vocational Education and Training (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2010 (NSW). There are also standards for RTOs that may well be relevant here, including standards to inform and protect learners – see https://www.asqa.gov.au/about/australias-vet-sector/standards-registered-training-organisations-rtos-2015. It’s beyond my remit to consider this legislation in detail.
Subject to anything that may be in specific Vocational training legislation and the standards for RTO’s I’m not aware of any specific law that says you must have parental consent, but giving people information must be good idea and making sure that a parent or guardian knows what is going on would be a simple way to reduce foreseeable risks. It will certainly be more important the younger the participant. I don’t understand why an RTO that has an under 18s consent form would want to stop using it? Without some guidance on their thinking it’s not possible to take the matter further.