Purpose of this report

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is pleased to present the 2022 Australian Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) annual report.  

Every year AMSA undertakes a range of planned and responsive activities to keep people safe and to protect the marine environment which is outlined in the National Compliance Plan.  

This report aims to present findings on key MLC data in Australian waters. It presents an analysis of MLC complaints, compliance and follow-up actions undertaken by AMSA in Australia for 2022. The information in this report will be used to inform the 2023-2024 National Compliance Plan.

Application of the MLC 

The MLC applies to all commercial vessels1 whether publicly or privately owned. It does not apply to fishing vessels, vessels of traditional build (such as dhows and junks), warships or naval auxiliaries or vessels not ordinarily engaged in commercial activities. 

A list of the 101 member states that have ratified the convention after 20 August 2013 is available on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) website.

Australia’s obligation under the MLC

In Australia, the MLC is implemented primarily through the Navigation Act 20122 and associated delegated legislation such as Marine Order 11 (Living and working conditions on vessels) 2015

AMSA verifies compliance with the MLC by:

  • Responding to all MLC complaints from seafarers engaged on vessels in, or coming into, Australian ports.
  • Conducting port and flag State control inspections of vessels coming into Australian ports.
  • Requiring Regulated Australian Vessels to be certified in accordance with the MLC, as given effect by Marine Order 11 (Living and working conditions on vessels) 2015.
  • Taking a leading role in supporting seafarer welfare through the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council.

AMSA continues to do its part to ensure seafarers on vessels visiting Australian ports are being afforded the requirements under the MLC.

The Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council

The MLC requires signatory countries to establish welfare boards at the port, regional and national level to support seafarer welfare. In Australia, the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council (ASWC) was established to ensure there is a continuous national approach in the provision of welfare services.

ASWC aims to promote seafarer welfare issues and the services available in Australian ports to support and protect seafarers.

The ASWC meets on a quarterly basis and AMSA plays a leadership (chairperson and secretariat) role in the work that ASWC aims to achieve, namely to:

  • Provide leadership in the implementation of Australia’s obligations to seafarers under the MLC
  • Assist in the establishment of a national network of seafarer support arrangements
  • Promote, encourage and support the delivery of seafarer welfare services at Australian ports

These aims are encompassed by ASWC’s strategic goals and progressed against these goals for 2022 as listed in Table 1 below. 

Table 1 – Progress against the ASWC strategic goals for 2022
Strategic goalsWhat we will doProgress against the strategic goals for 2022
Provide leadership in the implementation of Australia's obligations to seafarers under the MLC  

Promote awareness for ASWC, its role and vision   

Maintain contact with, and membership of, the International Seafarers' Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN)   

Promote awareness and support seafarer welfare  

ASWC continues to work closely with the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) in promoting seafarer welfare matters.

AMSA is committed to supporting seafarers’ welfare. In 2022 AMSA issued a Marine Notice reminding companies, owners and masters to provide shore leave to seafarers visiting Australian ports as required under the MLC, 2006.

AMSA conducted a focused inspection campaign on hours of work and rest between May and June 2022 in conjunction with standard port State control (PSC) and flag State control (FSC) inspections. The report can be accessed here: Focused inspection campaign - hours of work and rest outcomes report.

AMSA has also published a safety bulletin on hours of work and rest and highlighting the importance for companies and operators to mitigate the risks of fatigue through vessel design, operational and crewing policies. 

AMSA published the 2021 AustralianMaritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) annual report

ASWC were instrumental in identifying a gap in the availability of fatality data and proposing that the reporting of all seafarer deaths should be mandated. In 2022 AMSA submitted a proposal to change the Maritime Labour Convention to mandate the requirement for member states to report all fatalities at sea at the 4th meeting of the MLC Special Tripartite Committee (STC). The STC agreed to the proposal and for the relevant data to be published in a global register. These amendments will enter into force in December 2024. 

Assist in the establishment of a national network of seafarer support arrangements  

Encourage, support and guide the establishment of Port Welfare Committees (PWCs)

Facilitate and promote a network of communication and cooperation between Port Welfare Committees.

There are now 19 port welfare committees (PWC) located in major ports around Australia.

ASWC organised the first joint PWC forum which was held in November 2022 attended by Chairs and representatives from PWCs in Australia and ASWC members. It was agreed that this forum will be an annual event.

Promote, encourage, and support the delivery of seafarer welfare services at Australian ports  

Identify seafarer needs and future welfare requirements in line with shipping and crew trends  

Promote the need for seafarers to be treated as valued and respected members of our port communities   

Assist in investigating ongoing funding opportunities that may assist in providing sustainable seafarer welfare services  

ASWC continues to promote the need for consistent and sustainable funding model to fund seafarer welfare facilities/services.  

In 2022 ASWC members prepared and submitted proposals to the Minister, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and the Arts requesting consideration for sustainable funding for shore-based seafarer welfare services in Australia as per the requirements under the MLC. 

AMSA sponsored the Sydney Bethel union conference, and the Mission to Seafarers and Stella Maris joint conference.

AMSA continued to fund the 2023 Mission to Seafarers Calendar. The calendar will have the ASWC QR code – providing seafarers with the opportunity to contact AMSA directly

Seafarer welfare campaigns and publications

Every year AMSA undertakes a range of planned compliance and educational activities outlined in the National Compliance Plan. As part of the 2022-2023 National Compliance Plan, AMSA continues to ensure seafarers on vessels visiting Australian ports were, and are, being afforded the requirements under the MLC.

Guidance and publications

A Marine Notice emphasising the requirement for shipowners and operators to provide shore leave for seafarers visiting Australian ports has been published. AMSA has also published  guidance on the AMSA website on the maximum continuous period a seafarer can serve on board a vessel without taking leave.

AMSA continues to provide information and guidance on mental health which can be assessed at Mental health guidance for seafarers during COVID-19 (amsa.gov.au)

An article published by SAFETY4SEA following an exclusive interview with AMSA’s CEO Mick Kinley, also emphasises the importance of ensuring seafarer welfare is considered a priority by shipping companies and flag States. In the absence of welfare leadership, seafarers continue to be heavily reliant on charity-based seafarer welfare providers to support them, filling the gap of what the company/employer’s responsibility should be in this area.

International campaign to make reporting of fatalities at sea mandatory

As part of our continued commitment to seafarer welfare AMSA successfully campaigned for mandatory reporting of all seafarer deaths, including suicides and person-overboard, at the Maritime Labor Convention International Labor Organization Special Tripartite Committee* (STC) meeting in early 2022. Amendments will be made to the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 (MLC) which will broadly require:

  • All seafarer deaths to be adequately investigated and recorded by flag States (referred to as ‘competent authorities’ in the MLC) and reported on an annual basis to the ILO for publication in a de-identified global deaths at sea register.
  • Fatality data to include a classification for death, such as person-overboard or suicide, vessel type, vessel size, location of fatality, seafarer gender and rank.

This is a significant change. Until now flag States were only required to report operational-related fatalities, while those caused by seafarers falling overboard, committing suicide, natural causes or medical events went unreported to the ILO. To ensure consistency across global reporting, a detailed taxonomy for fatality data will be developed by the International Labor Office in consultation with STC officers, and promoted before the mandate enters into force via the MLC in 2024. A consistent dataset will allow the global maritime community to identify trends, particularly around those factors which impact the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers, and effectively address these with positive interventions. This also sets a significant precedent as the first time that mandatory reporting will be received by the ILO on deaths in any sector in the world.



1 Note. The MLC does not apply to domestic commercial vessels as are subject to other provisions 

2 The requirements of the MLC are met through various legislative instruments not limited to the Navigation Act.