Underwater safety a top priority

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has hosted the last of three industry roundtables to discuss dive safety.

Today’s roundtable in Airlie Beach was attended by representatives of The Whitsundays’ recreational diving and snorkelling industry and finalises broad-ranging industry consultation on proposed changes to diving and snorkelling safety standards.

Ms Grace said the Palaszczuk Government was determined to work with the industry to ensure diving and snorkelling was done as safely as possible.

“There are so many beautiful spots for diving and snorkelling in The Whitsundays and, indeed, right across Queensland, and these spots attract tourists and locals alike,” Ms Grace said.

“We are consulting with the industry about proposed changes to the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2018 arising from a recent coronial inquest.”

Ms Grace said the coronial inquest into the tragic diving-related death of Bethany Farrell recommended changes to diving and snorkelling regulations.

“We’re unpacking the coroner’s recommendations and identifying new initiatives to further improve our solid regulatory framework and respond effectively to the challenges for divers and the industry in Queensland,” Ms Grace said.

“We are committed to ensuring the tragic circumstances of Bethany Farrell’s drowning are never repeated in our reef tourism industry.

“The coroner’s recommendations included changes to inexperienced diver training and assessments, assessment of the dive site and visibility conditions and instructor to diver ratios.

“It is essential that we come up with best practice methods around how basic skills are taught to inexperienced divers, instructor to diver ratios and the coordination of diving routes where multiple groups have gathered.”

Industry views are also being sought on strengthening the status of the code of practice from its current status as an industry guideline to becoming a mandated minimum set of standards for operators under the recreational dive safety laws.

“We’ve also established a smaller industry working group to develop the proposed changes to the code of practice for consideration,” Ms Grace said.

“Our stunning reefs and beautiful coast line make Queensland one of the busiest diving and snorkelling destinations on the planet.

“That means tourism and tourism means jobs.

“If we are to maintain our reputation as the world’s best, it is vitally important that tourists who come here can dive and snorkel in the safest way possible.

“However one thing is for sure – safety cannot be compromised, whether it be in the water or on the land.”

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