Recreational maritime safety

25 Jun 2014

Transport Safety Victoria cannot demonstrate that it is effectively and efficiently regulating marine safety, according to this audit.


Victoria’s recreational boating industry is important to our economy and to Victorians’ quality of life. In the past five years almost all maritime safety incidents on state waters have involved recreational vessels, and a new marine safety regulatory framework was introduced in 2012 to better manage safety risks.

The framework depends heavily on Transport Safety Victoria's (TSV) effective coordination with voluntary waterway managers and enforcement bodies to maximise duty holders' compliance with their safety obligations. However, TSV cannot demonstrate that it is effectively and efficiently regulating marine safety because it has no framework for reliably evaluating: 

  • the effectiveness of its regulatory approach, and whether duty holders, waterway managers and enforcement bodies are fulfilling their responsibilities to cost effectively minimise safety risks
  • the competence and ongoing suitability of appointed waterway managers, and whether they are actively discharging their voluntary role
  • if the state's longstanding waterway rules remain fit for purpose and effective, and support the efficient management of current safety risks 
  • whether critical information on system-wide marine safety risks and related enforcement strategies is adequately leveraged by TSV, waterway managers and Victoria Police to continuously improve their management of marine safety.

The absence of such arrangements reduces TSV's accountability for performance, and significantly impedes its ability to regulate effectively. Consequently, TSV cannot adequately assure Parliament, the Minister for Ports or the community that its current approach to regulating marine safety is working.

Ongoing concerns about the adequacy of funding to TSV and waterway managers means that the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure—in consultation with the Director, Transport Safety, and central agencies—needs to urgently review and provide assurance about the adequacy of current resourcing arrangements for effective implementation of the marine safety regulatory framework.

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