On 13 December last year I had the pleasure of launching the new Australian
Volunteer Coast Guard Association Portland flotilla search and rescue vessel.
The 11.9-metre long Sabre-built vessel is the result of a $469 000 grant under
the Brumby government boating safety and facilities program. Since its launch
the boat has clocked up over 800 hours in training and has rescued four boats,
including a 30-tonne commercial crayfishing boat, three times the size of the
search and rescue vessel.
Portland flotilla commander, Cyril Cram, said that many locals
are astonished at the number of uses the vessel has. Mr Cram said that this
would not have happened without the overwhelming support of local businesses and
community members through sponsorship and in-kind donations.
This is an inspirational example of community groups,
volunteers and government agencies working together towards an outcome which not
only improves public safety but enhances community spirit.
The vessel is named after a dearly loved and respected
community member, the late Helen Handbury — an honourable blessing for the
vessel, I am sure. Now in its eighth year, the boating safety and facilities
program has already contributed more than $26 million towards making boating
safer and accessible for more Victorians.
Congratulations to the community of Portland and to the state
government for a wonderful initiative that works even harder to make Victorian
waters the safest in the country.