26 October 2018
Victoria’s marine emergency radio is proving to be a critical service helping dozens of boaters and paddlers at sea in its first year of operation.
Launched one year ago Marine Radio Victoria covers the Victorian coastline, up to 20 nautical miles from the coast on the VHF emergency channels.
Maritime Safety Victoria, a branch of state regulator Transport Safety Victoria, helped deliver the extensive project behind Marine Radio Victoria, which now gives boaters and paddlers a more reliable radio service across the Victoria coastline should they need to call for help.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said Marine Radio Victoria played an important role in allowing emergency management agencies to communicate effectively and keep people safe on the water.
“This has been a great service and has helped many members of the boating community,” he said.
“Not only is it an avenue for people to call when they need help, it’s also a tool people can utilise to receive important information about any changes in the weather while on the water.
“Being attuned to the conditions and keeping informed will mean a safer boating community.”
Marine Safety Victoria Director Rachel Gualano said preparation was the key when heading out on the water.
“We recommend wearing a lifejacket at all times on board and carrying several means of raising the alarm.”
Marine Radio Victoria handled 48 distress, urgency and safety incidents in the year to June. The service also assisted waterway users with 1,382 test calls or radio checks during the year.
If an incident requires a response to be launched, Marine Radio Victoria alerts Victoria Police, who may then task volunteer marine search and rescue agencies to assist.
Marine Radio Victoria is able to maintain communications with the person calling for help and all parties involved, as well as relay messages if they are unable to talk to each other directly.
Marine Radio Victoria is also able to track and contact ships in the area, to request assistance or alert them to a safety issue.
President of Port Fairy Marine Rescue Russell Lemke said knowing there was someone at the end of the line 24/7, and broadcasting weather updates and warnings, was a huge improvement to safety at sea.
All boaters, including paddlers and kayak fishers, on the bays and along the coast should have a VHF radio to take advantage of the benefits of Marine Radio Victoria.