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Source: Government of Western Australia

  • State Government releases Recreational Vessel Safety Equipment Review Position Paper for community comment
  • 12 proposals designed to simplify laws and make it easier to save lives on the water
  • Proposal recommends compulsory wearing of lifejackets for children and anyone on a vessel less than 4.8 metres in length, mirroring requirements in other States 

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti today released the Recreational Vessel Safety Equipment Review Position Paper for community comment.

The discussion paper has 12 proposals designed to simplify laws, making it easier for skippers to comply and save lives on the water.

The paper, based on the first phase of consultation, has been formed with feedback from 1,239 responses to an initial online survey and with input from an external reference group representing industry and boating organisations. The proposals also address repeated recommendations from a series of coronial inquiries.

Recommended proposals include the compulsory wearing of lifejackets for children and by anyone on a vessel less than 4.8 metres in length, bringing Western Australia into line with other States. 

In Victoria there were 59 boating fatalities in the six years prior to the introduction of compulsory lifejacket wearing in 2005 and only 16 fatalities recorded in the six years following.

Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all have laws requiring compulsory wearing of lifejackets on a vessel less than 4.8 metres, while Tasmania mandates the wearing of lifejackets on vessels less than six metres. All States except WA require children between one and 12 years to wear a lifejacket when boating.

Under the proposed reforms recreational vessels will not need to carry any safety equipment when operating in protected waters or within 400 metres of shore in unprotected waters.

The proposed changes also require a GPS enabled distress beacon, plus either flares or an electronic night signalling device. A marine radio will only be required when operating more than four nautical miles from shore.

Community members can have their say at http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/safetyequipmentreview

Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

“This is the first time there has been a comprehensive review into recreational vessel safety equipment since 1992. This new discussion paper gives community members the opportunity to have their say on what extra measures and laws they would like to see in place on our waters.

“There are a number of proposals that I want to hear from people on, in particular the compulsory wearing of lifejackets for anyone on a boat under 4.8 metres not in protected waters. This proposal will bring WA into line with other Australian States.

“In Victoria there were 59 boating fatalities in the six years prior to the introduction of compulsory lifejacket wearing in 2005 and in the six years following only 16 fatalities were recorded.

“Under the other proposed changes, when you go boating you will only be required to carry a GPS enabled distress beacon and flares or light if between 400 metres and four nautical miles from shore in unprotected waters.

“This will mean individual skippers will have greater control and increased responsibility for assessing the need for additional items of safety equipment when planning a voyage and considering the type of craft, weather, location and number of people on board.

“I encourage all members of the community to have their say on these proposed reforms.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5500

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