Historic vote: The headquarters of the Evans Head coastguard, overlooking the coastline at Razorback Lookout in Evans Head. All the State’s marine rescue services could come under a single organisation following a vote by members next month.
Historic vote: The headquarters of the Evans Head coastguard, overlooking the coastline at Razorback Lookout in Evans Head. All the State’s marine rescue services could come under a single organisation following a vote by members next month. Mark Elley

Single sea rescue service for NSW

THE realisation of a single NSW volunteer maritime rescue service will come down to a national vote by Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) members next month.

AVCGA National signed an in-principal agreement earlier this month, but the decision cannot be ratified until a majority vote in favour of the amalgamation of AVCGA and Marine Rescue NSW (MRNSW).

The former Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol officially joined MRNSW on January 1 of this year, and the former volunteer rescue association marine unit joined on January 21.

Ballina AVCGA flotilla commander Norm Lannoy said his local command had received their new uniforms and were looking forward to wearing it.

“We think it’s the best way to go,” he said.

“Same job, different name.”

Commander Lannoy said the amalgamation would improve funding for rescue boats and maintenance, as well as radio communications.

“At the moment, when our tower shuts down at five o’clock, communication goes to our standby stations,” Commander Lannoy said.

“But those standby stations are operated in people’s homes.”

Commander Lannoy said MRNSW would implement ‘backbone stations’ in the region – a system of communication that monitors sea-going traffic up and down the NSW coast.

MRNSW Cape Byron unit commander Peter Stynes, formerly with the royal volunteer coastal patrol, agreed the merger was a positive move.

“We’re looking forward to a much more cohesive use of all the facilities and working with each other,” he said.

“Being one organisation it will be better funded, have standardised training and operational procedures and it will allow members to move from one base to another.

“There will also be less confusion for users of the service over who to call.”

MRNSW Commissioner Glenn Finniss said the in-principal agreement meant that any individual AVCGA assets, cash at bank, licences and leases would remain in the control of the local unit after it transferred to Marine Rescue.

When the amalgamation is final, NSW will become the first State to have a single dedicated volunteer marine rescue service, with the likelihood of major corporate sponsorship more achievable.

The NSW Government has also agreed to commit $7.50 from each private boat registration directly to Marine Rescue, an estimated $5m a year.



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