Older boaties are being urged to exercise caution after an increase in the number of fatalities among seniors on NSW waterways.

“In NSW, we have some of the best waterways in Australia and each year more than two million people head out on the water to enjoy the sun, catch a few fish or to spend time with family and friends,” Centre for Maritime Services Director Michael Drake said.

“Last financial year we had the lowest waterway boating toll for more than 40 years. However one life lost is one too many and three of the nine fatal incidents this year have involved seniors.
“On our waterways, people aged 70 and older account for more than 20 per cent of fatalities, and yet only hold nine per cent of licences.

“As our population ages we continue to see an increase in the proportion of retirees with more time for leisure activities, including boating.”

The changing age profile of the boating population requires the adoption of specific responses, including improved accessibility of waterways and targeted education around issues facing older boaters.

Over the past five years, the State Government has invested more than $500 million in delivering services and infrastructure to the NSW maritime community.

The Centre for Maritime Safety and Roads and Maritime Services are committed to educating the boating community with initiatives such as the Old4New mobile lifejacket promotion program.

Old4New encourages people to trade in damaged or old-style lifejackets in exchange for new slimline models which can be worn in comfort for the duration of a typical day out in a boat.

“Our safety campaigns have helped raise the lifejacket wear rate from nine per cent 10 years ago, to 45 per cent and have driven an ongoing decline in the long-term rate of fatal incidents,” Mr Drake said.

“We ask seniors to always wear a lifejacket on the water because it helps buy valuable time following immersion and doubles the chance of survival.”

Transport for NSW will be promoting its safety measures at the Seniors Festival Expo 2018 at the International Convention Centre on Thursday April 5 and Friday April 6.

The Expo is part of the NSW Seniors Festival which celebrates and recognises seniors for the contribution they make to the NSW community.

The Festival is organised by the Department of Family and Community Services and runs from Wednesday April 4 to Sunday April 15.

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