Life jackets mandatory for Western Australian boaties

A number of new marine safety rules have been mandated by the WA Government, including mandatory life jackets under specific circumstances. Today, we’ll be delving into the new rules, so you know what to expect and how to prepare for the changes.

Here’s what you need to know.


What are the new rules?

Life jackets

Any person on a vessel that is at least 4.8 metres long and operating over 400 metres offshore must wear a life jacket. Children (between one and 12 years) must wear a life jacket regardless of the size of the vessel, if it is operating 400 metres or more from the shore.



WA boaties will also need to upgrade their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) to ensure they are GPS-enabled. Mark Zuvela from Marine Rescue Western Australia explained to ABC News why EPIRB upgrades were vital to marine safety.


“It makes a difference between searching for someone in square kilometres, right down to searching for someone in square metres,” he said.

“Most of them are now around the $200 mark, more or less. Basically, if you can afford a boat, you should be able to afford this equipment.”


Safety flares

The WA Government has given the go ahead for boaties to carry an electronic night signalling device, instead of pyrotechnic flares. However, they also need to carry or wear an EPIRB that is GPS-enabled.


Electronic night signalling devices work for up to 12 hours on battery, which makes them more effective than regular flares that tend to burn for a matter of minutes. The device has a red light that is visible within a range of two nautical miles at night.


Surfboards, paddle-craft and kite surfers

Requirements do not apply to people on surfboards or paddle-crafts, however they do impact kite-surfers, kayakers and wind-surfers operating over 400 metres offshore.


When do the new laws come into effect?

The new laws come into effect in the 2022-23 financial year. This should give WA boaties ample time to check and upgrade their safety equipment.


Why are the new rules in place?

In a recent press release, WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the new laws are about ensuring the safety and survival of WA boaties.

“In Victoria there were 59 boating fatalities in the six years prior to the introduction of compulsory lifejacket wearing in 2005. In the six years following there were only 16 recorded fatalities,” she said.
“The new requirements focus on safety equipment that will raise the alarm and assist survival and rescue.”


Is your boat cover sorted?

Now is also a good time to make sure your marine cover is the right fit for you. If you haven’t had your cover reviewed in the past year, our marine underwriters can assess your existing cover and let you know if a more suitable option is available.


Get in touch for an obligation-free quote and stay safe out there.