THE Hastings is now home to one of five marine education hubs set to be established across the state. It will offer high school students between Kempsey and Taree hands-on experience, skills and knowledge to make safe decisions when out on the waterways.
Newman Senior Technical College, equipped with its own state of the art marine discovery centre, led by teacher Warren Bridge, launched the Boating Industry Association (BIA) of NSW Boat Smart Safety program after the Hastings was identified as one of five regions across NSW to benefit from an allocation of $194,300 from the state government’s Water Safety Black Sports Fund.
The program, a joint initiative of NSW Roads and Maritime Services, the BIA and the Marine Teachers Association, incorporates marine safety into the school curriculum providing students the expertise and experience to handle boats safely while at the same time earning their full boat licence.
Funding for the Hastings hub has enabled the purchase of a small vessel, boat motor, two training dinghies and 20 life jackets with the support of local supplier Hastings Marine, and will also part fund a teaching resource to be made available to all schools across the region.
Newman Technical College principal, Stephen Pares said the establishment of a marine education hub is great acknowledgement of the skills and expertise of the college’s marine staff.
“This program and the equipment will be a wonderful complement to what we are already doing and will now benefit schools and communities right across the region,” Mr Pares said.
“Young people are extremely vulnerable through lack of experience and knowledge of the dangers that our waterways pose. This program will help instil good habits and help to prevent boating incidents for this generation,” Mr Bridge said.
“The program offers a fantastic opportunity for students to have direct access to a vessel and the water and to get hands-on experience in boat safety as a part of attaining their boat licence.”
The program includes practical experience in rowing a boat, skippering outboard powered vessels, using safety equipment, anchoring and knot tying, engine and boat care and launching a vessel.
President of the Marine Teachers Association NSW, Greg McNeil said the expansion of the program across the state is a boost for marine studies students in the Hastings.
“This will give many schools access to hands-on, practical and safe boating training which would otherwise be financially out of reach due to a lack of resources,” Mr McNeil said.
“We work extremely hard to provide safe boating education and applaud the initiative of BIA and Roads and Maritime Services to support this community education project.”