Marine rescue groups to amalgamate
THE Voluntary Rescue Association (VRA) is no more and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard’s days are numbered.
Both organisations will fall under the one umbrella – Marine Rescue NSW in the near future.
Wooli’s VRA branch became a unit of Marine Rescue NSW officially last Friday and the Yamba/Iluka Coast Guard is hoping to follow suit by the middle of the year.
The move was foreshadowed by the Price report of 2008 which urged the three main rescue groups – VRA, Coast Guard and the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol – form one body and take advantages of related efficiencies.
Unit Commander of Wooli Marine Rescue NSW, Stephen Reading, said his organisation had supported the idea of amalgamation for some time.
The unit has a new uniform, and as Marine Rescue NSW is a registered company, it has a new constitution.
“From Wooli’s point of view – it’s the same as before; just a new uniform,” Mr Reading said.
“Our rescue procedures come under the State Rescue Board – as do the procedures for the other rescue organisations.”
Mr Reading said the company’s public liability and worker’s compensation insurance would still be funded by the State Government.
As a single entity, Mr Reading said, Marine Rescue NSW had massive advantages in economies of scale buying power and better negotiation powers.
“Being one large corporation now we have an advantage in seeking big business sponsorship and it will help with standardisation of equipment,” he said. “It will help modernise our existing fleet.
“Hopefully, Wooli will get a new vessel in the next couple of years,” he said.
The Wooli unit has 14 active members, said Mr Reading, but would welcome an influx of extra help.
“We could do with a few more radio operators ... we train them up and their accreditation can often be transferred to the commercial sector,” Mr Reading said.
“It’s a good avenue for young people to get some qualifications.”
According to Marine Rescue’s Ship to Shore newsletter, the organisation’s headquarters has processed 2300 membership forms from members of the existing or outgoing rescue organisations.
“Headquarters has received over 370 new membership applications from people with no prior affiliations to the original organisations, with more arriving in every post. A fantastic result,” the newsletter states.