Local residents will soon be able to have their say on the State Government’s proposal to strengthen the rules for wearing life jackets on-board vessels as part of a community consultation.
Currently all vessels operating in South Australian waters are required to have life jackets on board for each person and it is a recommendation that children 12 years old or younger wear life jackets while on-board.
Together with the Boating Industry Association, the Government will consult with the community on whether these requirements should be strengthened.
The proposal has been prompted by a number of recent incidents in which people have tragically drowned while not wearing a life jackets.
A Royal Life Saving Australia report found that between 2005/06 and 2015/16, 35 people drowned while participating in boating or watercraft activities in SA and only one was wearing a life jacket.
Local fisherman Oliver Barr agrees with the State Government’s proposal and believes everyone should be wearing a life jacket if they’re out on the water, especially children.
“After the recent spate of incidents in SA waters, it’s definitely a good idea to be wearing a life jacket,” he said.
“Boats can go down very quickly, even in perfect conditions, so it’s not always easy to locate and put on a life jacket while you’re rushing around.
“I do understand while you’re fishing it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, but with self-inflating life jackets on the market now, you hardly realise you’re wearing one.”
With many fishos travelling over the border to popular fishing spots, Oliver said the proposed laws wouldn’t be too much of a shock to locals if they were to come into place.
“There are lots of South Australians that fish in Victoria who are already abiding by those laws,” he explained.
Among the options being considered are:
- Adopting New South Wales standards which include requirements for life jackets to be worn on vessels up to 4.8m at night, in open water, when boating alone; and by children 12 years and under at all times in a vessel up to 4.8m and in an open area on a vessel of 4.8m to 8m while underway
- Adopting Victorian standards where in most situations everyone on board is required to wear a life jacket at all times in vessels of up to 4.8m and at times of heightened risk in vessels between 4.8m and 12m
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said: “While we want to encourage recreational boaters to enjoy South Australia’s spectacular coast line, we also want to do everything in our power to make sure that everyone is safe while out on the water.”
“We don’t want to stop people from enjoying themselves or impose unnecessary red tape, but we do want to make sure that we do whatever we can to reduce serious injuries and deaths out on the water.”
Boating Industry Association chief executive Howard Glenn said: “We believe strongly that good boating is safe boating, and we’re committed to work with the South Australian Government to get the life jacket wear rules right.”
“It’s such a sensible approach to look at the rules in nearby New South Wales and Victoria, and adopt what’s best for the South Australian waterways.
“Getting people on small boats in those states to wear life jackets, through a combination of education and regulation, has made boating better, safer and encouraged more people to get on board.”