Inter-governmental agreement

2017 edition of the Inter-governmental agreement on national search and rescue response arrangements

In 2015 during the 39th NATSAR Council annual meeting, a paper was submitted with a proposed restructure of the IGA to bring greater clarity to the purpose and content of the document and six amendments to support the National Operational Procedure for Transfer of Land SAR. The restructure and amendments were supported by the Council with the agreement to initiate the respective internal consultation processes through the jurisdictions. It was also agreed to conduct an ongoing review of the document every two years.

The amended IGA was signed by Minister Chester (Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) in August 2017. Minister Chester subsequently requested counter signature from the respective ministers for police and emergency services in each jurisdiction in order to finalise the process of updating the IGA. The IGA was signed by all jurisdictions during November and December 2017 and was published in February 2018.


2004 IGA

The Inter‑Governmental Agreement (IGA) on National Search and Rescue Response Arrangements was developed and signed by the relevant commonwealth and state/territory ministers. It was signed by the relevant ministers at the 28th meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers Council held in Hobart in late June 2004.

The 2004 IGA updated and replaced arrangements between the commonwealth and state/territory search and rescue (SAR) Authorities on the coordination of search and rescue in the Australian region. The 2004 IGA replaced dated agreements between the commonwealth and states and the Northern Territory for:

  • the coordination of maritime and land search and rescue
  • the authority and scope of the National Search and Rescue Council
  • the maintenance of the National Search and Rescue Manual
  • other search and rescue matters.

2012 IGA

At the 34th Meeting of the National SAR Council held in October 2010, a paper was tabled by AMSA regarding the age of the IGA and the need for revision in light of the proposed National System for Commercial Vessel Safety. It was agreed that AMSA would initiate a review of these as a consequence of:

  • the emergence of a new National Volunteer Marine SAR Committee
  • issues raised from recent significant incidents
  • introduction of police-related legislation on cross‐border operations and emergency situations other than SAR events
  • prospective regulatory reform regarding commercial vessels
  • the continuing evolution of the SAR system and in particular the emphasis upon the ‘best placed to respond’ concept for coordination of actual operations.

After an extensive process of consultation, including the members of the National Search and Rescue Council and the Assistant Commissioners responsible for SAR in their respective jurisdictions, a revised draft has been produced, for consideration and forwarding for signature by the relevant state and territory ministers.

The revised IGA was presented to the National Policing Senior Officers Group on 20 April 2012 for their concurrence. No issues were raised regarding the proposed draft and any implications for future operations. The finalised document was presented by the Attorney-General, the Honourable Nicola Roxon MP to the Standing Council of Police and Emergency Ministers on 29 June and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP signed shortly after.