State News

Aboriginal Maritime Safety Plan launch

Transport for NSW is launching a plan to reduce the likelihood and consequences of boating incidents involving Aboriginal people on NSW waterways.

Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary Safety, Environment and Regulation Tara McCarthy said the release of the Aboriginal Maritime Safety Plan demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to improving boating safety outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“A key part of the plan will involve collaborating with Aboriginal communities to co-design culturally relevant boating safety programs,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The plan also aims to increase Aboriginal participation in the maritime economy by supporting opportunities for career pathways.

“The plan also acknowledges data collection as an area for significant improvement, and that better data will help shape further boating safety initiatives tailored to Aboriginal communities.”

In the 10 years to 1 July 2017, there were nine boating-related drowning fatalities in Australia involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In NSW, there were 90 boating-related serious injuries involving Aboriginal people between July 2005 and December 2019.

The 2016 Census estimated that there were about 216,176 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, or 2.9 per cent of the population – the largest population in any Australian State or Territory.

Ms McCarthy said the new plan will support delivery of a range of key actions to reduce the likelihood and consequences of boating incidents involving Aboriginal people on NSW waterways over coming years.

The Aboriginal Maritime Safety Plan 2020-22 delivers a boating safety strategy for Aboriginal people, which is an action in the Maritime Safety Plan 2017-2021 and supports the vision of Transport for NSW’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021. 

“Aboriginal communities are connected through history and culture to waterways, often using lakes, streams, rivers and the ocean as a transport option to attend school and work,” Ms McCarthy said.

“A waterway is also an important place for Aboriginal people to connect with family members, attend funerals and participate in cultural events. In this way, boating safety is linked to cultural, as well as physical and economic, well‑being.”

The plan is available for viewing at https://www.lifejacketwearit.com.au/aboriginal-maritime-safety

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