Work will begin next month to expand Batemans Bay Marine Rescue's base after a six-year search for funds.
With their DA due to expire, Marine Rescue personnel were delighted to hear Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello and Bega MP Andrew Constance formally announce $200,000 in funding on Wednesday, January 20.
It was a long time coming for the emergency service, after the DA to double its base was approved six years ago.
Mr Constance said the improvements provide full accessibility, extra storage and the ability to get equipment out quick.
"This means anyone with mobility issues can be part of Marine Rescue and the new space will be able to accommodate more volunteer staff," he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Marine Rescue NSW Alex Barrell said the investment into more memberships translates into a better service for the community.
"The waterways are busier and the demand of our service has increased," he said.
"It's important we have safe and fit facilities for members."
On the Far South Coast last year, Mr Barrell said volunteers carried out more than 130 rescues.
"80 of those were life endangering situations," he said.
"It goes to show why investment in this infrastructure is so important to maintain our capability."
During the pandemic, Mr Constance said there had been a 50 percent increase in boating licence applications.
"There will be more inexperienced people on the water and it will be busier."
Mr Constance urged boaters to be vigilant in our waterways.
"There have been too many fatalities on the water over the past year, people need to get the message," he said.
He said many disregard water temperatures and life jackets.
"For some, it's a lapse in concentration where they have lost loved ones or themselves," Mr Constance said.
Over the years, Batemans Bay Marine Rescue's unit commander, Richard Blundell observed more boats using the Clyde River.
"Properties are starting to move quickly now - people are moving here from out of town, and generally if they're coming for a coast change, they are going to bring a boat or kayak," he said.
"That's more people who fall into that category of who we look after."
He said all members of Batemans Bay Marine Rescue are volunteers, and the unit's upgrades were much needed.
"It has been phenomenal for us," Mr Blundell said, looking forward to increased interest of new members.
"If we have the facilities and capability to train more people, we can more people on," he said.
"The longer we leave it to train people, the less inclined they are to stay and the get a bit disillusioned and leave."
Mr Blundell said majority of funds would go towards the building extension downstairs.
"There will be a new training room and ability to have a boat hooked up permanently to a vehicle for better response times," he said.
He said the new training room would accommodate double volunteer staff.
The unit will also upgrade its outdated equipment and technology for training.
"It will keep people motivated, keep them trained and trained quicker," he said.
Construction work was due to begin on February 8.
The grant was funded through NSW Government's Infrastructure Grants program - Disaster Readiness and Community Infrastructure sector in 2020.
"The Infrastructure Grants program funds important projects across the state and the NSW Government is proud to support community organisations that work tirelessly to create resilient, healthy and connected communities," Mr Constance said.
"The projects they're delivering will boost equity, social inclusion and participation - making a real difference in people's lives across NSW."
Since 2015, the NSW Government has funded over 380 community projects worth $58 million under the Infrastructure Grants program.
The grants are made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund which re-invests profits from registered clubs' gaming machines into community infrastructure projects across three key areas:
- Arts and Culture;
- Disaster Readiness and Community Infrastructure; and
- Sport and Recreation
A new round of applications for funding opens, February 1. Learn more at:https://www.responsiblegambling.nsw.gov.au/funding-opportunities/infrastructure-grants