Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) is reminding boaters and paddlers to ‘know the five’ when they are planning to head out on the water this summer with the launch of its annual boating safety campaign.

Shaun Rodenburg, Director Maritime Safety, expects a surge of activity again this summer as boaters and paddlers enjoy freedoms following COVID-19 restrictions.

“We urge boaters to check that everything is operating as it should be, and to make sure their safety gear is up to scratch before hitting the water.”

“Sadly, in the last financial year (2020-21), we saw 10 fatalities from recreational vessel incidents,” Mr Rodenburg said.

He said that with incidents on the rise, everyone heading to Victoria’s waterways should follow five top tips to Prepare to Survive:

  • Know the weather
  • Practise getting back on
  • Carry a distress beacon
  • Lock in a buddy plan
  • Wear a lifejacket.

Mr Rodenburg said that it’s particularly important to practise getting back on your vessel.

“Boaters and paddlers usually remember to check the weather and wear a lifejacket, but many injuries and – sadly – fatalities, result when they go out alone, can’t get back on and are unable to raise the alarm.”

Waterway risks

Whether you’re on coastal or inland waters, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected and always plan ahead. Coastal water conditions can change quickly with the weather and currents, and it’s important to practise caution, particularly around bars.

While there may be a perception that inland waters tend to be safer, it is especially crucial to be aware of flowing water – which usually occurs after periods of rain. Not only is the current strong but moving rapids can hide snags and other hazards.

Expect the unexpected

“I want to remind all boaters and paddlers that no matter how experienced they are, things can still happen that are out of their control,” said Cameron Toy, Director Transport Safety.

“TSV is committed to addressing these behavioural risks through our annual campaign, which is designed to promote better behaviour that in turn helps reduce incidents and fatalities.”

The Prepare to Survive campaign brings home the importance of trip preparation, so that if something does happen on the water, boaters have the absolute best chance of survival.

Find out more at

Behaviour change

Research into the success of the Prepare to Survive campaign over recent years has found more than 90 per cent of boaters and paddlers surveyed acknowledged the messages are important.

The ‘know the weather’ message was remembered by around 60 per cent. Statistics also showed that one in four survey respondents are now using MSV’s Boating Vic app to assess conditions.

However, the findings also showed a need to focus on certain aspects:

  • Only 59% of boaters and 64% of paddlers were aware that they should practise getting back on
  • While 90% of boaters carry a distress beacon or radio, only 56% of paddlers do
  • 65% of boaters tend to underestimate the inherent risks due to feeling confident and experienced.

Last summer we asked a couple of experienced boaters to see if they could get back on. Watch the video.