Seafarers: shipping’s greatest asset

Australia recognises that seafarers are the most vital component of international shipping. Every year Australia inspects thousands of ships and every inspection includes an assessment of the safety and wellbeing of seafarers.

Australia enforces the Maritime Labour Convention to ensure seafarers are correctly paid, and that conditions, accommodation and meals reflect international standards. Safety is our priority; each year Australian inspections result in the rectification of thousands of safety deficiencies.  

Women in maritime

Australia strongly supports the IMO’s commitment to gender equality.

Australia champions initiatives to make the maritime community safer and more inclusive. Women represent just 1.2% of the global seafaring workforce and we are committed to increasing women’s maritime opportunities.

Australia has an established women’s scholarship program and we advocated for ‘women in maritime’ to be added as a standing agenda item at the Asia-Pacific Heads of Maritime Agencies forum.

Australia was proud to advocate to establish the IMO Day for Women in Maritime. We congratulate PacWIMA and Pacific nations on the success of this proposal.

Australia continues to celebrate the achievements of women in maritime and supports the IMOGENder Network proposal to establish an annual award for exceptional women in maritime.  

Learn more about Australia’s work to achieve this.

Maritime Labour Convention

Australia is signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), and it is implemented through the Australian Navigation Act 2012 and associated delegated legislation such as Marine Order 11 (living and working conditions on vessels) 2015.

The MLC sets modern principles relating to the employment and social standard for seafarers globally, ensuring their right to decent working and living conditions on vessels.


Australia takes a zero-tolerance approach to the mistreatment of seafarers and continues to support them by:

  • Ensuring compliance with MLC conditions onboard ships in Australian ports.
  • Conducting investigations of MLC complaints.
  • Detaining ships in breach of the MLC—and in severe cases—refusing access to Australian ports. 

Read AMSA’s MLC annual report which provides a baseline of findings on some of the issues uncovered following investigations. 

For more information on the MLC in Australia visit Maritime Labour convention guidance.

For seafarer support, visit the Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council.

Port State Control

Safe ships are generally clean ships, and AMSA focuses on both through its Port State Control (PSC) inspection regime.  

Of AMSA’s Port State control inspections during 2020-21, 8.2 per cent of detentions identified deficiencies related to pollution which were considered serious breaches with immediate consequences for the marine environment. 

Some examples of these deficiencies include: 

  • defective oily water separator discharge arrangements and procedures allowing oil to be discharged overboard into the ocean if not detected 
  • garbage disposal not in compliance with MARPOL requirements, such as dumping waste too close to shore or in sensitive areas  
  • uncontrolled release of greenhouse gases emitted by onboard systems, causing damage to the atmosphere. 

 In addition to our business-as-usual inspections, we have run concentrated inspection campaigns on several environmental issues in recent years, such as securing of cargo. 

More information on focussed inspection campaigns is available here. Port State control focused inspection campaigns