Review into Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guard begins

SERVICE AGREEMENT: Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guard will be assessed before negotiations begin for a new service agreement.
SERVICE AGREEMENT: Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guard will be assessed before negotiations begin for a new service agreement.

THE Queensland government has begun a review into Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guard services, as the expiry of funding agreements for both loom.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Crawford said the review was being done by retired Royal Australian Navy Commodore Campbell Darby.

Mr Darby would first assess the search and rescue capability of both volunteer organisations and their overall service delivery before negotiations for new service agreements began, Mr Crawford said.

Currently, about $3.2 million in funding from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is shared between the two volunteer organisations every year.

There are 21 Coast Guard and 26 VMR locations across Queensland, with services agreements for both set to expire in June next year.

Mr Crawford said he asked for the review in July after volunteers raised complex issues affecting service delivery at different locations.

“(Mr Darby’s) review will involve regional stakeholder visits to help Queensland Fire and Emergency Services better understand what is happening at a local, tactical level,” Mr Crawford said.

“I want to reiterate how much this government values the services provided by our marine rescue volunteers.”

Both organisations rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers to raise funds and seek grants for projects like vessel replacement. 

Last year, it was revealed that Volunteer Marine Rescue Queensland faced huge insurance excess costs if another event like ex-Cyclone Debbie were to hit.

The $100,000 excess threatened to deplete the organisation’s operational funds if two or more named events hit in close succession and if indemnity could not be provided by the state government.

Mr Crawford said the review would mean volunteers had the greatest capacity to respond to emergency events and to protect people out on the water.

Written submissions for the review can be emailed to QFESVMROR@qfes.qld.gov.au.