Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Volunteer Coastguards Ready to Abandon Ship

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Volunteer Coastguards Ready to Abandon Ship

Article excerpt

Byline: Matty Holdsworth

FOR 25 years Coastguard Mooloolaba has worked around the clock to protect boaties but the volunteers are now prepared to quit over what they call a "bullying hierarchy".

Their Parkyn Pde base is manned 24-hours a day, seven-days a week and 365-days a year and is one of the largest in the country.

It tracks vessels from Moreton Bay to Hervey Bay and communicates with fellow bases, north and south and assist when asked.

The self-funded organisation stays afloat through raffles and sausage sizzles but the governing body - the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association of Australia (AVCGA) - wants them to change vessel logging systems, despite their current one "working perfectly".

Come April 1, Coastguard Mooloolaba said they would be forced to comply against their will with the new policy.

"It's their way or the highway and they're forcing us to change," treasurer Peter Wollerman told the Daily hours before he was due to start a 12-hour night shift.

"We do this because we love it but we don't need to be treated with callous disregard," he said.

"They act like dictators.

"We are all volunteers and wouldn't be here if we didn't care. But it's wearing thin."

Mr Wollerman referred the Daily to a Blue Water Review report by retired commodore Campbell Darvy which said a "toxic environment had been allowed to flourish" at the AVCGA.

Former deputy commander Rod Ashlin said last year the Coastguard was called to 155 rescues, ranging from a 60-tonne vessel 60 nautical miles offshore, to a jetski 200 yards away.

The group of 160-strong are predominantly retirees who do it for the love of it, and the camaraderie and mateship attached.

Mr Wollerman, an ex-lawyer, has tried to use the new program, which they've been told is a stable requirement under new regulations, but is unable to make head or tail of a system. …

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