Join the discussion

Proposed regulations about when lifejackets must be worn on recreational vessels in South Australian waters. Currently there is a requirement that lifejackets be carried on board vessels but the requirement to wear them only applies in specific circumstances.

With regard to the proposed changes to mandatory lifejacket wearing requirements, we want to know your feedback on the questions below, and other feedback you wish to be considered:

  1. It is proposed that lifejackets are to be worn at all times in an open area of the vessel by children, and by others at times of heightened risk, on vessels greater than 4.8 m in length. What size vessels should this regulation apply to? e.g. up to 12m long, or up to 8m long.
  2. It is proposed that lifejackets are to be worn by children at all times on vessels less than 4.8 metres, and in an open area of a vessel greater than 4.8 m.
    What age children should this apply to? e.g. less than 12 years old, or less than 10 years old.

  3. When should proposed mandatory lifejacket rules apply? e.g. when underway and at anchor, or when underway only.

Comments closed

Liz Frankel

20 Sep 2017

I believe that there should be different considerations for protected waters (eg on the River Murray) compared to open waters.
I do not think that adults should be required to wear a life jacket while underway in a tinny or in a ski boat.

Tim Brown

16 Sep 2017

I propose an exemption under all circumstances for adults on boats exceeding 4.8m wearing a full-length diving exposure suit. A suit of the type likely worn in SA would be at least 5mm thick and provide 7-10kg of positive buoyancy (a quick internet search reveals varying opinions, but that range is consistent with my diving experience). This is enough to keep the head comfortably out of sea water. Such a suit would provide enough thermal protection to keep hypothermia at bay for considerably longer than no suit in a man-overboard search scenario.

Geoffrey Mitton

15 Sep 2017

No consideration for windsurfing in the waves. Safer without life jacket so can get under the waves and for required manoeuvrability. Been windsurfing for 30 years. Pretty confident about this as fact.

Graeme Wilkinson

15 Sep 2017

Operating in an area where the Bureau of Meteorology has issued the following warnings: (Gale, Storm force); this is when windsurfing in the ocean is fun, adding a PFD into the equation will significantly increase the risk, which is why currently everyone ignores the law and goes with the safest option, NO PFD. Please use common sense. 1 size doesn't fit all. Follow NSW and VIC for laws on PFD's for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Steve Lewis

14 Sep 2017

It would seem that consideration is being given to the regulations being adopted for vessels that are anchored, even though this is not mentioned in the proposed legislation. If this is the case, at night (heightened risk), someone would need to wear a lifejacket while sleeping aboard their craft when anchored in protected waters. This is neither sensible or practical. The regulations should apply to those underway only.

Please Delete

14 Sep 2017

No lifejackets for wavesailors (windsurfing in ocean waves). That is my vote !

Peter McDonald

14 Sep 2017

I'm a boatie with 4.8m tinny. We started wearing our life jackets when the kids were on board. Now we have just kept it going. Regardless of age or stage if you come in my boat you wear a life jacket. My dad and I wear those inflatable vests. So I strongly support the changes to the legislation.

Ann Collins

13 Sep 2017

I agree. One size fits all approach to kiteboarding is not suitable.

A pfd becomes a life hazard when a kiter is performing stunts and tricks (somersaults / twists etc). In these instances a pfd would significantly increase the risk of becoming tangled in kite lines. As mentioned by many, when in surf, it becomes essential to be able to duck dive - something a pfd is built to prohibit.

Beginner kiteboarders who just ride back and forth ... no risk of catching kite lines on a pdfs. However, the moment a kiter advances to executing tricks and stunts ... which is why they kite ... a pdf becomes a potential life hazard device, not a life safety device.

Whilst I encourage beginner kiters to consider having a pfd as part of their kit - I did. It needs to remain the decision of the 'skipper' as to whether it is in their best safety interest to wear a pfd given their level of technical skill and execution.

A mandatory 'one size fits' approach increases the risk of serious injury or death to kiters rather than decreasing.

Shaun Crocker

11 Sep 2017

As stated in a previous comment, there has been no consideration for the exemptions required for Kitesurfing / kiteboarding and Windsurfing up to 400m from shore of open waters in this proposal. We as a forward thinking State, we must get away from a one size fits all mentality when it comes to legislation such as this. Forcing kite surfers/boarders & wind surfers to wear PFD's at all times is dangerous and a serious safety concern. As with surfers and open water swimmers who are not required to wear PFD's, kite surfers and wind surfers need the ability to submerge themselves under waves when in the impact zone to avoid potential dangers. Also to add to this, kite surfers and wind surfers for most part of the year in South Australia, if not all year round in some areas, are forced to wear wet suits due to the cold water. These wet suits alone are buoyant and provide enough buoyancy to keep one afloat.
I propose we follow NSW and Victorian legislation which should be adopted here, which would make for a sensible exemption. We need to take a sensible approach when it comes to non mainstream sports such as kite surfing/boarding and windsurfing otherwise peoples safety will be compromised, which is completely opposite of what you are trying to achieve .

GJ Ochoa > Shaun Crocker

11 Sep 2017

Shaun Crocker has eloquently put into words the sentiment of many Kitesurfers and Windsurfers. Please do not make this a 'one size fits all' legislation!
Other states have done it. We shouldn't be any different.

Matt Mckenzie-Smith > Shaun Crocker

12 Sep 2017

Hear hear! As Shaun has already clearly stated the argument, I totally agree that this is completely about safety and the only way to achieve that in Kitesurfing/boarding and windsurfing, is to exempt the mandatory use of a PFD up to 400m from shore in open water.
In much the way there is a keyed safety "Off" position in passenger side airbags for when more vulnerable payloads are in the passenger seat of a car. i.e. Making it safer in special circumstances.

Noel Johnston > Shaun Crocker

13 Sep 2017

As a sailor instructor and a casual kiteboarder, i know when a personal floatation device is required. sailing=yes, PFD on a vessel is required, kiteboarding =no, PFD not required on a approx 1m surf-like board.

the government can better utilize funds by encouraging 'kite with a mate' signs on all major beaches.

Craigy Knit

10 Sep 2017

A kiteboard isn't a traditional vessel so shouldn't be classified as such. You are essentially attached to an inflatable kite (it floats) and a competent kiteboarder is trained to use the inflatable kite as a rescue device in case of emergency. A kiteboarder must be able to swim to learn The sport (same as a surfer) The biggest danger from kiteboarding is being knocked unconscious and drowning.. a PFD will not prevent that.
Please align the laws with NSW where a life jackets is required for offshore waters (more than swimming distance)

Darren Wise > Craigy Knit

11 Sep 2017

Yes it seem a great waste of of opportunity that this review does not include the danger that life jackets pose to kitesurfers when clearly Victoria and NSW have both identified this and followed through with appropriate changes

Brian Hill

09 Sep 2017

"Boating at night" should not be considered a heightened risk in isolation. To say the sun has gone down you must wear a life jacket when aboard a boat is not acceptable in the majority of conditions. Boating at night when underway in open waters is more acceptable term.
Occupants sleeping overnight on a boat with suitable accomodation in sheltered areas in close proximity to shore will not wear lifejackets. It is an unacceptable discomfort and should not be made illegal.

Darren Wise > Brian Hill

11 Sep 2017

Yes, since when does all hazard identification and risk assessment process get thrown out the window and there is a one rule fits all situations. It would be prudent thinking that many people at night are professional operators and will identify when a life jacket is to be worn or not. Use of equipment and machinery and many tasks aboard a boat could be made dangerous by the use of a life jacket surely this is up to the skipper


08 Sep 2017

Lifejackets (pfd1) do NOT need to be worn in sheltered waters at anchor.
It is ridiculous to consider wearing them when asleep at a mooring or in a harbour

Stephanie Edwards

08 Sep 2017

My grandfather went fishing off Glenelg with two mates. The boat overturned. One man could swim. One could swim but was concussed in the accident and could do nothing but hold onto the boat (my grandfather). One could not swim at all. The man who could swim went for help. By the time he got back with the authorities, my grandfather had let go of the boat, drifted away a little and drowned. He was 49 with a wife and three children. His life would have been saved had he been wearing a lifejacket. As a result of his death, his eldest daughter became so stressed she gave birth prematurely on the day of his funeral. His wife was left without an income and needed help to pay for his grave. His second daughter has a life-long phobia about swimming or even getting water on her face. His son grew to adulthood without his father. Accidents happen. Wear your lifejacket at all times, when underway and when at rest. If not for your sake, then for the sake of the people who love you and will grieve over you.

Peter McDonald > Stephanie Edwards

14 Sep 2017

Thanks Stephanie for sharing your story. It is powerful and compelling as it makes us realise the breadth of boating decisions and its impact on families.

Darren Wise

05 Sep 2017

There has been no consideration for the exemptions required for Kitesurfing / kiteboarding and Windsurfing up to 400m from shore of open waters in this proposal. NSW and Victorian legislation should be adopted here which make for a sensible exemption. Trying to apply the rules of a boat to a Kiteboarder in breaking surf is nonsensical and shows ignorance to the actual safety requirements. The sensible approach is that the same rules that apply to a surfer on a surfboard should apply - a life jacket is impossible to wear in this example. With respect to a boat Stuart Tucker is correct, 'as directed by the skipper' is critically important, as there are duties upon a boat that would be made dangerous by the wearing of a jacket - particularly with the use of machinery.

David Stanton > Darren Wise

05 Sep 2017

I agree entirely Darren, wearing a life jacket while kite surfing, especially while riding in waves creates a significant danger to the rider. The rules should match the other states.

Surfers are not required to wear life jackets as it would put them at risk and kite boarders should have the same classification.

Craigy Knit > Darren Wise

10 Sep 2017

I agree.. it should be up to the skipper whether they require a PFD or not.. wearing a life vest in the surf is ridiculous

Stuart Tucker

29 Aug 2017

The survey does not give any choice other than to accept the compulsory wearing of life jackets. Wearing of life jackets should only be "as directed by the skipper".

Wayne Knight

25 Aug 2017

I would like to ask for consideration to be given to those who wear wetsuits, a 3mm full body hooded wetsuit constructed of neoprene will offer both floatation and protection from hypothermia. A 5mm and above full body hooded neoprene will offer greater protection from hypothermia and an added amount of floatation, hypothermia is a large contributor to death in man over board cases and this needs to be considered.
In the event of man overboard the wetsuit would be sufficient to offer protection for survival in south Australian conditions suitable for diving.

Dean Holloway

23 Aug 2017

Anthony, you seem to have a similar level of experience to me and a respect for the sea. I am pleased that your children wear a life jacket onboard your vessel. The proposed changes would not apply to persons over 12 years old onboard your 6m vessel, except at times of heightened risk. Life jackets only save lives if they are worn.

Anthony Harvey

22 Aug 2017

Firstly the information gathered via this medium will be skewed by only accesss people who use the internet, omitting those who don't. But you probably have a plan for that.

I'm 41, my dad is 73. We have each fished from not long after birth. So you could say we have experience.
These proposed laws will only add to the frustration already building throughout the fishing fraternity. In my time I've seen quotas change, restricted fishing areas introduced, launch fees, boat Reg increase, Mandatory safety equipment etc etc. all have validity to some extent. But the proposal for the compulsory wearing of vests breaks a certain boundary. For the record, my 4 yr old boy and 2 yr old girl always wear a vest. They accept it, it's MY rule. No one else's, Dads. I'm the authority, they think. I care for my kids so I protect them as much as I can. It's my purpose. I don't need anyone to tell me this. On the water there is a sense of freedom. It's a kind of old school sense. We are losing places to feel this way rapidly. I surf, same feeling. One day, maybe when he's 8,9 or 10, my son is going to say he doesn't want to wear a jacket anymore. He may use the excuse that it's not cool, or it's uncomfortable or "you don't wear one". Either way, this will be the moment my son and I stop going fishing. He won't wear a jacket, we can't go. My daughter is more stubborn, so this may happen younger for her. So my plan for this was to compromise. How you ask? Well if they can swim, and it's day time, and it's calm and the adult to child ratio is even, and I'm in known waters, and I'm in charge, my children will wear a jacket underway but at rest they can remove it. I have a 6 metre very seaworthy craft. I believe I have effectively managed the risk while still enabling everyone to feel that feeling I mentioned. Freedom. I know the reasoning behind this proposal and it was exceptionally unfortunate and very unlucky the family fishing in the south east met whatever fate they met. We as ocean goers accept this risk. It's natural for us and we actually love that feeling of the unknown.
So to summarise, please leave whatever happens on a water craft up to the captain. We don't buy boats on a whim. If anyone does they are probably not going to wear jackets anyway. Just leave the ocean to us and regulate the land if you must. The water attracts a certain type of person. But with more regulation and the loss of that sense of freedom, fathers may not get the chance to pass on what he knows to his children. (See mother should the shoe fit!!) and actually on that, mothers have a huge say. I can't imagine what my wife would do if my kids got injured or worse on a boat. That's enough law for me!! Cheers.

Al Vucic > Anthony Harvey

23 Aug 2017

Mate I completely hear where you're coming from, although if you wore a life jacket as well as your kids, they may never see it as uncool or hypocritical, it becomes standard equipment, like a seatbelt.
Fishos will resist this the most, yet some of the biggest advocates will probably be their own families.
We all say we don't want invasive legislation, or that life jackets are uncomfortable due to size, fit, or heat. But there are many different brands and styles to choose from. Instead of searching for one when the time comes, it'll be ready. Besides, the rule mainly effects vessels <4.8m, dinghys, possibly the largest group of boat users who are also the most at risk.
If everyone wears it, no one has a stigma (or wastes time) to put one on.
I would have resisted this change a few years back but work on tourism ships, in Fiji Yachting, and now Maritime Safety Vic (opinions expressed are my own) puts things in perspective. This law will halve drownings in years to come, if we can put our pride aside. Wearing a life jacket is about more than just saving yourself in some unforeseen circumstance, this act can help kids, grandfathers or mates have fun then go home.
24yo Master 5 who recently moved to Melb from Adelaide
-also this page feels as it will not impact the proposed law (which is definitely coming) just a space to vent really 🏝