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Have your say on lifejacket reform

  • Written by Andrew Constance

The community is invited to have its say on two options to simplify and expand lifejacket requirements on NSW waterways, as part of the draft Maritime Safety Plan 2026.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said more than seven out of 10 people presumed drowned in recreational boating incidents, over the 10 years to 2019–20, were not wearing a lifejacket.

Lifejackets are without a doubt the most important piece of safety equipment for survival in boating incidents where people are forced into the water.

We want to hear from NSW boaters on the two new lifejacket options that have been developed, because we need to make the law easier for people to understand and save more lives on our waterways.

The draft Maritime Safety Plan 2026 will outline the NSW Government’s plans for maritime safety over the next five years, and support our goal of zero boating fatalities and serious injuries by 2056.

The first option would require mandatory wearing of lifejackets by adults on vessels less than six metres when underway, and at all times for vessels less than six metres when boating alone, on alpine waters or between sunset and sunrise.

The second option would require the mandatory wearing of lifejackets by adults on vessels less than six metres in enclosed waters when underway, 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.

Under both options, children under the age of 12 will be required to wear a lifejacket at all times on a vessel less than six metres in enclosed and open waters, and in the open area of a vessel greater than six metres that is underway in enclosed and open waters.

Centre for Maritime Safety Chief Bernard Carlon said the draft plan builds upon the achievements of the previous Maritime Safety Plan 2021, and incorporates the Safe System approach, which focuses on safe people, safe vessels and safe waterways.

Each year, more than two million people explore our beautiful NSW waterways by boat and other watercraft, and we want to ensure they can continue to enjoy this popular activity in the safest possible way, Mr Carlon said.

The proposed changes to lifejacket rules are designed to be simpler and easier to understand for NSW boaters, with the goal of driving increased wearing of lifejackets to save lives.

Both options being proposed will save lives on NSW waterways and support our ultimate goal – to get to zero fatalities on NSW waterways by 2056.

To have your say on the draft Maritime Safety Plan 2026 and the proposed lifejacket reform options, visit haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/maritime-safety by 24 September.

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