Our boating safety officers (BSOs) spoke with more than 9,000 members of the public about boating safety during the 2016-17 season.

Victorian boaters have been very receptive to our safety advice and the BSOs have greatly enjoyed meeting so many of you.

One story stood out. A family had just bought an old boat and were preparing to launch on the Yarra River. The group had been assured by the previous owner that all the required safety gear was on board, however we found that a number of items were either not working or out of date.

Within an hour a family member had zipped off to get the equipment they needed and returned ready to play it safe by the water – and avoid a fine. We even helped them determine who should take the helm, by advising them of the drink-driving rules.

Some other highlights for our team included:

  • Changing people’s behaviour regarding speed and distance on inland waters, after discussions around family returning home safely at the end of the day.
  • Providing information about what constitutes heightened risk and what should trigger you to wear a lifejacket.
  • Seeing a number of punters waving their newly purchased flares/torches after advice from us.
  • Helping lots of people understand how to maintain their lifejackets as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

BSOs visited 451 different launching spots across 154 coastal, enclosed and inland waterways – including numerous inland waterways in North West Victoria that had in previous years been dry because of drought.

The officers also spoke to people at retail outlets, emergency services, volunteer search and rescue (VSAR) groups, visitor information centres and caravan parks, and attended 13 events and shows across the state from Mildura to Port Welshpool.

As part of our Paddle Safe, Paddle Smart campaign, BSOs engaged with retailers about encouraging paddlers to get more safety equipment and know how to use it.

The team also attended 13 personal watercraft hot spots with our education trailer as part of our PWC safety campaign, and these visits attracted quite a lot of attention.