Val Dempsey is named 2022 Senior Australian of the Year for her tireless commitment to promote and deliver emergency first aid training to help save lives.
Known affectionately as Aunty Val, the 71-year-old has dedicated her adult life volunteering with St John to promote a healthy and safe community. In 2021 alone she clocked-up 600+ hours, leading first-aid training, providing support at local events and activities, and working with the COVID-19 response team.
In 2020, Val coordinated the deployment of volunteer teams to first aid posts to assist in the bushfire emergency response. In the 1990s, in response to an epidemic of drug overdoses and deaths, Val created Project Survival, taking first aid education and messages into the places drug users frequented. The initiative was so successful, it was adopted nationally by the Community Care program.
Val’s distinguished service to St John and the local community saw her awarded as a Member of the Order of St John (1990), Officer of the Order (1997) and culminating in Commander of the Order presented by His Excellency Governor-General David Hurley in 2021.
Images from Salty Dingo Media and Australian Of The Year Awards
Call for learner drivers to be the next generation of mobile first aiders
The experienced nurse is not only using her platform to highlight the important work of St John, she wants learner drivers to become Australia’s next generation of mobile first aiders by making first-aid a compulsory part of gaining a driver’s licence.
“The first people on the scene of an accident are usually fellow road users. 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.”
“I have dedicated my life to assisting others in need and equip them with skills and confidence to be able to help others and deal with an emergency. As a nation, we can rethink our approach to those critical minutes between life and death at the scene of an accident and make community members part of the solution.”
“As 2022 ACT Senior Australian of the Year, I see it as my duty to raise awareness of issues that are close to my heart and promote solutions to make our community an even safer place to live.”
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The Australian of the Year Awards celebrate the achievements and contributions of inspirational people who go above and beyond for their communities. The 2022 Awards was presented in Canberra by the Prime Minister on January 25 and broadcast on ABC TV at 7.30pm (AEDT).
Watch on iView: Australian Of The Year Awards 2022 : ABC iview