RABY Bay VMR crew are hoping for a good outcome after the state government released a scathing report into Queensland’s volunteer blue water rescue services.
The review into Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guard was done by retired Royal Australian Navy Commodore Campbell Darby.
Mr Darby was commissioned by the state government to assess both organisations’ service delivery, as the expiry of funding agreements loom.
Mr Darby said in his report that he believed the case for reform in the sector was clear.
He said both organisations struggled with internal governance issues, limited government funding and a lack of profile for volunteers.
Volunteers were also heavily relied upon to raise funds for operational costs and capital expenses, which was not viable over the long-term, he said.
“Continuing down a path without significant reform appears untenable as the sector's capacity to deliver the public good for which it has been established will continue to steadily degrade,” Mr Darby said.
Mr Darby recommended the state government implement funding reform to achieve a single, capable and respected volunteer marine rescue organisation.
He said blue water rescue services were poorly integrated, suggesting the state government undertake small reforms and a pathway to change over five years.
“The middle ground presents the best risk to return balance,” he said.
“It engages the sector in the policy journey and with the right consultative and oversight mechanism builds stakeholder ownership.”
Raby Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue Commodore Bill Bennett said he would be interested to find out what would happen with Mr Darby’s recommendations.
“I hope we have a favourable outcome,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see what the Queensland government does with the findings, if anything.”
Currently, about $3.2 million in funding from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is shared between the VMR and Coast Guard every year.
There are 21 Coast Guard and 26 VMR locations across Queensland, with services agreements for both set to expire at the end of June.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Mark Roche said QFES would soon form a working group to consider Mr Darby’s review.
“The working group will work with QFES to form the future of volunteer marine rescue services in Queensland by the middle of 2019,” he said.
“This report … will assist QFES in identifying any areas where new ideas can be utilised and integrated to support marine rescue volunteers and their communities moving forward.”
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