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AMSA donates 1500 lifejackets to Papua New Guinean villagers

Wednesday 15 May 2013
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is working to help keep Papua New Guinea villagers safe at sea with the donation of 1500 lifejackets across 13 villages.
Media Release

The lifejackets will start the journey up to the South Fly River District from Cairns tomorrow (Thursday, 16 May) aboard AMSA’s emergency towage vessel Pacific Responder. The Pacific Responder will deliver the lifejackets to Thursday Island, and from there they will be distributed among the traditional inhabitants of the 13 Papua New Guinea Treaty Villages, which includes the coastal villages of Bula, Mari, Jarai, Tais, Sigabadaru, Mabadauan, Old Mawatta, Ture Ture, Parama and Sui.

The distribution of the lifejackets will take place over 12 days starting from 16 June.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Graham Peachey said up to 200 life jackets would be given to each treaty village for use during open water voyages.

“Community members from these coastal villages undertake extended open water voyages to visit Australian island communities in the Torres Strait to take part in traditional activities. These people often travel in unseaworthy vessels which have very little or no safety equipment,” Mr Peachey said.

“The operators and passengers of these vessels are aware of the need for safety equipment. However the remote location of their villages, combined with low socio-economic factors put equipment such as lifejackets out of reach for most villagers,” he said.

The lifejackets will be provided to the villages in lockable containers with a register to assist in self management of the lifejackets by village leaders and their delegates. The initiative came about following a request from traditional inhabitants of the Torres Strait Treaty Villages.

The request was supported by the Joint Advisory Council to the Torres Strait Treaty, an advisory body made up of Australian and Papua New Guinea officials, and then AMSA came on board to fund and deliver the initiative.

“The distribution of lifejackets is in line with AMSA's commitments under the Torres Strait Marine Safety Program and to help improve maritime safety in the region,” Mr Peachey said.

The Torres Strait Marine Safety Program (TSMSP) was initiated in July 2006 as a joint initiative between AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

In addition to providing safety equipment, the program runs a number of safety courses and information sessions in an effort to reduce the number of incidents of lost seafarers in the Torres

Strait region, increase the chances of survival of lost seafarers and increase community and industry commitment to safety.

“Since August 2011, participants across 17 communities involved in the TSMSP have completed more than 630 training modules, and more than 90 per cent of senior school students in the program area have completed a boat safety training course and were awarded a Recreational Marine Driver’s Licence,” Mr Peachey said.

“In addition, since the 2006/07 financial year, the number of search and rescue incidents in Torres Strait area has steadily decreased from 258 to 160 in 2011/12,” he said.

Mr Peachey said the delivery of the lifejackets would be accompanied by education sessions on boating safety by AMSA and PNG’s National Maritime Safety Authority.

“We will visit one or two villages per day to deliver the lifejackets and undertake education sessions in maritime safety to adults at all 13 treaty villages and local school children,” he said.

Media Note: The lifejackets will be loaded onto the Pacific Responder tomorrow, Thursday, 16 May at Trinity Wharf. Media are invited to obtain vision at 1pm. Media are encouraged to wear enclosed shoes and bring a safety vest if possible. To arrange interviews, please contact AMSA Media.