The first Marine Rescue NSW stand at the Sydney Show

The first Marine Rescue NSW stand at the Sydney Show

At the 2007 Sydney International Boat Show NSW Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi announced an inquiry to look into the challenges facing the three different NSW volunteer marine rescue groups who were handling almost 70% of all marine rescue in the state.

By the 2008 Boat Show the Price Report recommended formation of a single, new, unified marine rescue organisation. Establishment of a high level Facilitation Committee to undertake this task followed.

Just under two years later, on 1 July 2009, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW was registered as a company that will operate as MARINE RESCUE NSW. On the same day Minister Tripodi presented a grant of $3 million to help start the new organisation. The cheque was received by three of the inaugural board members of MARINE RESCUE NSW; Bill Carter, Chair of VRA Marine Committee NSW and the NSW Volunteer Marine Rescue Council;  Commodore Peter Phillipson, Officer Commanding Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol and Commodore Frank Robards, Chair of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard NSW State Council.

“This is the most important advance in marine safety for the recreational boating public in Australia since the Volunteer Coastal Patrol was established in 1937”, said Commodore Peter Phillipson. “This grant is a just and intelligent allocation back to the NSW boating community of revenue gathered by NSW Maritime from this group through boating licence and registration fees.”

The new, unified volunteer marine rescue organisation will provide NSW with the largest safety net of marine search and rescue, radio communication and boating education services of any state in Australia.  

The three board members strongly endorsed the NSW Government’s action.

“Although there has been good informal co-operation between the three organisations in the past,” said Bill Carter, “the new single organisation will eliminate any uncertainties that arose from different corporate structures and procedures. We will all be speaking with one voice now. The boating public will know they only have to contact one organisation anywhere in NSW waters. This is a big advance for both the volunteers and the public.”  

MARINE RESCUE NSW will unify 56 accredited volunteer marine rescue units on the NSW coast into a single, cohesive organisation that will simplify and streamline marine rescue, radio and education services for the NSW boating community.  

“While each of the three existing organisations is saddened by the impending loss of their individual identities in NSW, we know that our respective proud histories and experience will always remain and indeed, will form an important part of the foundation of MARINE RESCUE NSW.” said Commodore Robards.  

MARINE RESCUE NSW will be launched to the public at the Sydney International Boat Show later this month. The volunteers’ new blue uniforms will be the first visible sign of the new organisation and two rescue vessels will show off the new white and red livery that will be introduced as existing vessels are replaced or refurbished.

“It was important that MARINE RESCUE NSW be established as a volunteer organisation.” said Bill Carter. “Members of the three existing organisations joined them as volunteers who were keenly interested in boating and marine safety. In this respect we share similar ideals to those of our volunteer colleagues in the SES and Rural Fire Service.”

Bill Carter continued, “The additional funding received as a single organisation will be extremely valuable for MARINE RESCUE NSW as it will help us to provide our services in a more financially equitable manner. With the launch of MARINE RESCUE NSW I know members are really excited to see their efforts recognized in such a tangible way but like our land-based colleagues, you will still see us fund-raising with raffles and sausage sizzles.”

Commodore Phillipson added, “Each year the three existing organisations provide around $30million worth of skilled personnel hours to the state of NSW and its boating community, as well as over $70 million in assets and infrastructure. The new unified organisation will enable us all to better manage, maintain, deploy and upgrade these assets and deliver an ever better marine safety service in Australia’s premier boating state. And it’s quite clear that the new organisation has strong support. Already almost 2,000 people have expressed their interest in MARINE RESCUE NSW on the website.”

“We should also pay tribute to the efforts of NSW Maritime whose General Manager Recreational Boating, Brett Moore, and his staff, have played a significant role in a clearing a veritable mountain of administrative work that has been needed to get MARINE RESCUE NSW under way” said Commodore Phillipson.

“There will be a large team of members there each day to give information about MARINE RESCUE NSW as well as providing sound advice on all recreational boating safety and education services that are available.

We also want to assure everyone that during the coming months as units integrate into MARINE RESCUE NSW, full services will continue to be provided by the exiting marine rescue organisation you already know in your own areas.

We all look forward to seeing you at the MARINE RESCUE NSW stand at the Boat Show.”

For more details about MARINE RESCUE NSW visit