Coastal Patrol applauds Minister’s Announcement on Marine Rescue

Coastal Patrol applauds Minister’s Announcement on Volunteer Marine Rescue

The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, Australia’s oldest volunteer marine rescue organisation, applauds today’s announcement from the Minister for Ports and Waterways, Joe Tripodi, that the government will establish a new, single volunteer marine rescue organisation in NSW.

Officer Commanding of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, Commodore Peter Phillipson, said “The Minister’s announcement sees the beginning of a more effective, more efficient structure for volunteer marine rescue in Australia. This is the implementation of recommendations made in The Price Report, a lengthy examination of volunteer marine rescue services in NSW conducted earlier this year. The government will establish the new organisation to be called NSW Marine Rescue. Members of the existing organisations, Coastal Patrol, Coast Guard and Volunteer Rescue Association, will be invited to join and create a single, unified rescue organisation that will provide an integrated marine rescue service for the large recreational boating community in NSW.”  

“The Coastal Patrol provided a detailed recommendation to the Price Inquiry. In this we declared that we would willingly give up our name, which has a proud 71 year history, and roll our resources into a new organisation. This is like starting from a clean sheet of paper to create a first class organisation whose responsibility is to look forward.” said Commodore Phillipson.  “Nothing will change our history and even with a new name we’ll always know where we’ve come from. But more importantly, as a single organisation the volunteers will now be able to plan ahead more effectively to know where we’re going.”

NSW is the biggest boating state in Australia with more than 445,000 licenced boat drivers and over 214,000 boats registered – with thousands more small boats that do not require registration. There are three volunteer marine rescue organisations in NSW; the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol with 25 accredited units; Australian Volunteer Coast Guard with 17 and the VRA with 14. A new single organisation will enable a proper review to be undertaken and resources co-ordinated for greater efficiency and better allocation of government funds.

“The annual operating cost for the Coastal Patrol alone is around $3 million. In the past, we have received only around 10% of our costs from the state government,” said Commodore Phillipson. “Yet the volunteers are responsible for an average of 70% of all rescues. Our members put in more than 700,000 personnel hours each year. That represents over $20 million in value for the government as we deliver marine safety education, marine radio communication and search & rescue services which the government has the responsibility to provide to the NSW community.”

“The government’s initiative will not only see a better service for the boating public, it will also create a more equitable and realistic structure for the volunteers. The Coastal Patrol congratulates Minister Tripodi and the NSW government on starting this process in 2007 and bringing it to this positive stage in just over a year,” said Commodore Phillipson. “We now look forward to working with the government and our colleagues in Coast Guard and VRA to create the new organisation. There is a two year time frame for this and I want to assure the boating community that during this time the Coastal Patrol and our colleagues will continue to provide our services to ensure safety of life at sea.”