Local VMR seeks community donations for upgrades

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue training officer John Lawrence and commander Geoff Brierly are hoping to fundraise for upgrades to their vessel, Valerie June.
Camera IconNaturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue training officer John Lawrence and commander Geoff Brierly are hoping to fundraise for upgrades to their vessel, Valerie June. Credit: Sarah Ison Busselton Dunsborough Times

Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue volunteers are ramping up their fundraising efforts as the financial year draws to a close, bringing into focus the continued need for crews to undertake their own revenue-raising, despite the unprecedented funding package announced earlier this year.

The Times reported in May the State Government’s allocation of almost $20 million to VMRs, which served as welcome news to groups long competing for limited grants to upgrade vessels and equipment.

However, volunteers’ excitement over the unprecedented funding packaged was brought down a notch by VMRWA commander Jeff Howe, who contacted crews across the State last month to remind them it would take several years to clear the backlog of various projects.

Mr Howe told the Times previous funding for VMRs had been woefully insufficient, and it would take several years to smooth out the build-up of projects.

“Volunteers will need to continue fundraising for certain projects,” he said.

Naturaliste VMR volunteers said they had applied for a grant a couple of years ago to upgrade equipment on their main vessel but were unsuccessful.

However, Naturaliste VMR volunteers recognised there were many VMRs that “didn’t have much at all” when it came to facilities and equipment, and were aware of the continued need to undertake fundraising for some of their upgrades, despite the funding increase.

Training officer John Lawrence said the main vessel, Valerie June, was built in 2008 and needed new twin motors, as well as electronic and radio upgrades.

“They’re all a bit dated,” he said.

“We’ve put in a capital grants application, but know there’s 37 other groups around the State and the Government’s behind in funding those, so we’re hoping the community will donate, especially as it’s almost the end of the financial year.”

Department of Fire and Emergency Services assistant capability commissioner Gary Gifford said the funding was prioritised by risk, with operational safety being the highest priority.

To donate to Naturaliste VMR, go to naturalistevmr.com.

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