NSW lifejackets saving lives in Papua New Guinea

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More than 4,500 traded-in lifejackets from NSW have found new homes in Papua New Guinea. The lifejackets, donated by NSW boaters, are helping to prevent drowning in remote island communities.

Credit: David Kirkland

Life in the small island provinces of Papua New Guinea is spent commuting by sea. Many areas and essential services such as healthcare are accessible only by boat. Boats are often small, wooden and prone to capsizing when overloaded or if they encounter harsh weather. Sadly this means drowning is a common occurrence.

Finding themselves with a surplus of safety standard compliant, pre-used lifejackets in excellent condition, the Centre for Maritime Safety saw an opportunity to help. These lifejackets were traded in as part of the Old4New program where NSW boaters swapped their used lifejackets for discounts on the latest slimline models.

Volunteers in Sydney pack donated lifejackets into a 44ft shipping container.

Ishmael Kawi was part of the team from the PNG National Maritime Safety Authority who unpacked a 44ft shipping container loaded with donated lifejackets in June last year. He says that these lifejackets are usually quite expensive in Papua New Guinea, and so people who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to the devices now do.

In fact the PNG National Maritime Safety Authority has taken the opportunity to push safety standards further, according to Ishmael, “We encourage the provinces to use the jackets as an incentive to provide to the boat owners for free when they bring in their boat for registration. It works out wonderfully as people are now coming into their respective provincial registries to register and license their boats.”

Centre for Maritime Safety Director Michael Drake is proud to put the traded-in lifejackets to good use in Papua New Guinea.

“These lifejackets will save lives. By keeping them on these boats we are giving people a significantly increased chance of rescue and survival if their vessel is swamped and capsizes.” – Michael Drake, Centre for Maritime Safety Director

Did you know?

The Old4New campaign is a key part of the Maritime Safety Plan which has seen lifejacket wear rates increase from nine per cent ten years ago to more than 45 per cent.

More information can be found here.

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