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Victorian Boat Operator Licence

Jet Ski riders in Victoria are facing new restrictions after the Sandringham Foreshore Association has called for crackdowns on “aggressive and reckless” riders.

It comes only weeks after a 51-year-old South Melbourne man was killed after being struck by a Jet Ski near Port Melbourne Beach. The accident occurred when a 21-year-old driver entered a restricted zone.

Sandringham Foreshore Association president Vicki Karalis said “more accidents would happen unless tougher licensing laws were passed”.

Jamie Raffelt, a veteran boat builder and operator, believes tougher laws are not the answer.

“The current licensing system is a joke. Applicants are given a book to read and then sit a written test. Unless these soon to be operators are physically taught how to control a vessel in the flesh, then tougher laws will be of no help” he said.


Lake Nagambie, Victoria

Kristen Fonseca, a 16-year-old American national was killed earlier this year after Australian Tyler Dagley, 20, was recklessly operating a Jet Ski. This incident has yet again placed Jet Ski riders under review, and has prompted further action to be taken.

Queensland has been the first state in Australia to adopt new legislation for Jet Ski riders. From January 1 this year, all riders will be required to carry a registered Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, when boating more than two nautical miles from land.

In addition to this, handheld flares have become a requirement.

“Carrying extra safety equipment and flares won’t help a user who has collided with a swimmer at the beach” Mr Raffelt said.

While these laws have been a positive change for Queensland waterways and users, the rest of Australia is still using dated safety legislation.

While still behind the other states, Victoria made a step forward in December 2009 with the introduction of ‘Hoon Boating Laws‘. The initiative aims to punish users who choose to act in an irresponsible and dangerous manner. While this will no doubt curb some of the reckless behaviour, it is no substitute for proper education.

Until such a time when boat licensing moves toward a pratical and hands on competency test, swimmers and boat operators are at increased risk of injury to themselves, property and others.

The question now is if the other states are willing adopt these changes before anyone else gets killed.

David Kirby