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Marine Rescue NSW saves lives on the water, providing 24-hour emergency response, returning thousands of boaters in trouble safely to shore every year. It is a service provided entirely by volunteers.


Joanna has been a volunteer with Marine Rescue NSW for three years.

“I volunteer because as a sailor, I know that Marine Rescue are probably the ones who will save me if the worst should happen. I want to be able to give back and help out others like myself who enjoy spending time on the water.”

As well as search and rescue missions, volunteers’ duties include monitoring marine radio around-the-clock for distress calls, tracking boaters’ voyages to ensure they reach their destinations safely, event safety control, training exercises and boating safety education for members of the public.

“There is no such thing as a typical day volunteering for Marine Rescue. At my unit we will arrive at the base at 7am, and open the boats, checking they are in full working order and properly geared up for the day. We will then normally have a plan on what training we would like to do, interspersed with any call outs we get for help. On a busy day, we can be on the water for hours at a time going from one call to the next - and sometimes we don't get a call at all. In order for us to keep ourselves proficient, there are always training drills that have to be completed - so we are never bored,” Joanna says.

rescue boat

Volunteers can take on a range of roles; from crewing an offshore search and rescue vessel or providing a radio watch at a base to helping with fundraising or administrative support. Members of Marine Rescue NSW come from all walks of life and receive professional training meeting national standards to learn and develop the skills they need to help people on the water.

Like many volunteers, Joanna gets a lot out of volunteering for Marine Rescue. She has made friends, continues building her skills both on and off the water and has the satisfaction of knowing she is helping to provide a vital service that saves lives.

“We are helping people when they need it most. When people believe that they are in danger it can be a very stressful time for them. Being able to help them get to safety and get home in one piece is a very satisfying experience.”

For more information on volunteering for Marine Rescue NSW visit
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Last updated: 23 Mar 2020