Minister for Ports and Waterways Joe Tripodi said the Iemma Government is committed to improving the services of the NSW volunteer marine rescue groups. 'Volunteers make a substantial contribution to maritime safety in our State,' Mr Tripodi said.
'We want to help these volunteers improve boating safety and their emergency rescue response. I am currently reviewing a report by former Deputy Speaker, John Price, who was asked last year to review the adequacy and long-term viability of marine rescue groups. Part of this report considers integrating all the groups into one body – the NSW Marine Rescue.'
The review included analysis of the three volunteer groups; the Marine Branch of the Volunteer Rescue Association, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol. 'The review identified that whilst the service is currently adequate, there are too many factors affecting each group’s ability to recruit and remain viable,' Mr Tripodi said. 'These factors include membership costs, operation and training as well as vessel and communication equipment replacement.
'The report also found there is administrative stress within some of these organisations, duplication of some bases and overlapping of radio services and some competition for funding support. 'The Government will now consult the rescue group members on whether the recommended rationalisation into a NSW Volunteer Marine Rescue Service will improve communications and operational efficiency.'
Mr Tripodi said stakeholders, including the volunteer groups, had been consulted in the development of the report and will now be consulted further. 'The Government will not simply be accepting the report. We are calling for submissions in response to the report from all the volunteers and other supporters
'In addition to ongoing annual funding of $1.35 million, NSW Maritime will provide an extra $3 million in 2009-2010 if a new integrated service emerges from the report, consultation and industry talks.' Other recommendations in the review include: ·
The formation of an administrative committee of 8 to 12 people drawn from the existing participating organisations under the chair of the NSW Water Police; the NSW Water Police will undertake a rationalisation review of the current services for consideration by the committee.
To view the full report and submit comments go to www.maritime.nsw.gov.au