Transport for NSW is developing the Maritime Safety Plan 2026 as part of the NSW Government’s commitment to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our waterways.

The new five-year plan builds upon the achievements of the Maritime Safety Plan 2021. It incorporates the Safe System Approach which focuses on safe people, safe vessels and safe waterways.

The plan focuses on four key areas:

  • safer lifejacket wear and equipment
  • safer boating through technology
  • safer waterway access and infrastructure
  • growing our safety culture.

We are seeking your feedback on these proposals to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone spending time on NSW waterways.

Proposed changes to simplify and expand lifejacket wear requirements

We also invite you to have your say on the proposed changes to simplify and expand lifejacket wear requirements in NSW. Our aim is to ensure that the law regarding lifejacket wear compliance is safer and easier to understand, so that more lives can be saved on NSW waterways. You can read more about the proposed changes in the fact sheet. The two proposed options are:

  • ‘Option A’ would require mandatory wearing of lifejackets by adults:
    • on vessels less than 6m when underway; and
    • at all times for vessels less than 6m when boating alone, on alpine waters or between sunset and sunrise (heightened risk circumstances).
  • ‘Option B’ will require mandatory wearing of lifejackets by adults:
    • on vessels less than 6m in enclosed waters when underway; and
    • on all vessels in open waters in the open area of the vessel when underway; and
    • at all times when boating alone, on alpine waters or between sunset and sunrise (heightened risk circumstances).

Under both options, children under 12 years of age will be required to wear a lifejacket:

  • at all times in a vessel less than 6m in enclosed and open waters; and
  • in the open area of a vessel greater than 6m that is underway in enclosed and open waters.

How many lives could be saved?

Tragically we have seen 131 lives lost over 10 years and 79 of these might have been saved had all people been wearing a lifejacket. Our data indicates that 71 per cent of preventable drownings over this period involved vessels less than 6 metres long.

Over the 10-year period to June 2020, assuming 100% compliance with the relevant laws:

  • Option A could have saved up to 56 lives
  • Option B could have saved up to 67 lives.

Read the fact sheet for more data about options A and B.

Tell us what you think

To ensure that we are meeting the needs of the NSW community, we would like your feedback on the draft Maritime Safety Plan 2026. Your feedback is important and will inform the way in which we manage maritime safety over the next five years.

You can access Life Jacket and Maritime Safety Plan 2026 Fact Sheets, FAQs and the draft Maritime Safety Plan 2026 to help inform your responses. Public consultation will close at 11:59pm on 24 September 2021.

Thank you for your feedback

This engagement is now closed. Thank you to participants for providing your input and ideas which we are currently reviewing.

News

The recently released Maritime Safety Plan 2026 sets out a comprehensive list of initiatives aimed at reducing fatalities and serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2026 and lays the foundation for the long‑term target of zero fatalities on NSW waterways by 2056.

During 2021 we undertook extensive stakeholder engagement through several forums and workshops as well as online consultation through this site as part of developing the Maritime Safety Plan 2026. A large number of suggestions and comments were received, and we have taken on board your feedback to further refine how together we make our waterways safe and enjoyable.

This collaboration has guided the initiatives and commitments that will be in the Maritime Safety Plan 2026. Thank you to the more than 4,800 people who provided feedback through consultation on the draft plan and lifejacket reform options. You can view a copy of the Maritime Safety Plan 2026 at future.transport.nsw.gov.au/maritimesafetyplan

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