Stay safe on the water this summer
Australia is a water-obsessed nation. In summer, our beaches, rivers, lakes and dams are packed with people and up to 25 per cent of our population participate in recreational boating and watersport.
Sadly, many take their safety for granted. This is especially evident when it comes to boat safety, with alcohol, speed and poor judgement still a cause of major injuries and death on our waterways. This is why the NSW Government is continuing to invest in boating infrastructure and safety programs with Minister Melinda Pavey announcing the State’s Maritime Safety Plan last week.
In 2017, there were four confirmed fatalities caused by boating incidents. The lowest number in 40 years and many lives were saved thanks to sustained campaigns to encourage recreational boat users to wear life jackets. Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight and Nationals MP for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, wants to continue this downward trend. Launching the Maritime Safety Plan 2017 -2021, Melinda drew attention to factors such as alcohol, speed and risky-behavior which cause the majority of preventable water accidents.
“In NSW, we have some of the best waterways in Australia and each year more than two million people head out on the water on boats and the like to enjoy the sun, catch a few fish or to spend time with family and friends,” she said.
“While we have made significant progress in reducing drowning fatalities on boats – including raising the lifejacket wear rate from nine per cent to 45 per cent, increased effort is needed to respond to non-drowning fatalities – caused by factors such as speed, alcohol, keeping a proper lookout and judgement. Sadly, we are seeing little reduction in these areas and that’s something I want to reverse.”
The plan identifies key risk factors and strategies to work toward the long-term goal of zero boating fatalities. This includes expanding on board technology, continuing education surrounding safe towing and driving practices, discouraging the consumption of alcohol while on boats, increasing safety awareness for the aging population who may take up boating in retirement and education about the risks of cold water areas – where 67 per cent of all fatalities in the past decade have occurred – and investing $500 million into maritime infrastructure to make access and usage safer.
The importance of boating as an economic activity is also key to the NSW Government’s maritime strategies. With 10,000 commercial boats, 240,000 registered recreational boats and an estimated 150,000 unregistered vessels such as kayaks, the boating sector is estimated to contribute $2.7 billion to the economy each year. After the successful first round of Boating Now, Melinda announced Round Two had successfully seen funding allocated to 73 projects around the state, sharing in $17 million in funding. A $70 million program, the funding is rolled out in conjunction with local councils and will see new ramps, pontoons, jetties and parking built around the State. This will improve boating for locals, boost tourism and increase safety for all water users.
To date, 192 boating projects totaling $48.83 million have rolled out across the State. To find out more and see projects in your local area, please visit the Boating Now Projects Map.