Opinion: Australian seafarer welfare sustainability is in danger of failure
07 Oct 2022
They work in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions. But because they are out at sea, they are out of sight and often out of mind.
Thankfully, a range of welfare organisations exist to support seafarers. They help provide some of the comfort and support that most people take for granted on land. But a properly funded and sustainable welfare sector is needed to continue providing this vital support.
We believe that levies and taxes charged to maritime companies by States should be used in part to support the welfare of seafarers by funding port based facilities and services.
Our efforts in New Zealand were successful and we are now working to support partners in Australia to bring about similar changes.
Our maritime levy campaign began in 2019 in New Zealand. In 2020 we published a report on the underfunding of welfare services and the poor MLC compliance of New Zealand. We followed this up with a Counsel's Opinion, indicating how the situation could be rectified. This led to a government commitment to rectify the situation and an eventual change in legislation.
This change will allow port welfare facilities to access sustainable funding funded from the collection of levies from visiting vessels. Around 130,000 crew members visiting the 10 ports of New Zealand will have access to welfare facilities which are sustainably funded thanks to Human Rights at Sea’s Maritime Levy Campaign.
In 2022 we heard from the New Zealand government that the changes implemented have been positively impactful to the tens of thousands of crew members who pass through New Zealand’s ports. We continue to work with government and maritime welfare providers to monitor the effectiveness of the legislative changes