Call goes out for volunteers

Organisations including Marine Rescue Eden are calling for volunteers to join their ranks, such as former navy officer Richard Lamacraft, pictured here tracking a vessel at the Eden station.
Organisations including Marine Rescue Eden are calling for volunteers to join their ranks, such as former navy officer Richard Lamacraft, pictured here tracking a vessel at the Eden station.

A vast array of Eden organisations are calling for people to sign up ahead of National Volunteers Week, with locals reminded that some of our most important services and attractions are kept alive by volunteers.

National Volunteers Week begins on Monday, with places including Marine Rescue Eden, Eden Access Centre, Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and the Eden Killer Whale Museum among those on the lookout for extra hands.

Jenny Drenkhahn, who volunteers at Marine Rescue and is also secretary of the award-winning Eden Killer Whale Museum, said volunteering is not an arduous task, and volunteers are only asked to give what time they can.

“Marine Rescue is a very important safety net for everyone who goes out on the water, and is entirely volunteer run,” she said.

“Eden’s a very strategic port, particularly southbound because there is really no sheltered place for boats to go until they get about halfway down the east coast of Tasmania, so Marine Rescue is a vital service.

“We have 22 volunteers, but we started out with 45, so we’re looking for more people to help man the station.”

“We run a roster with three shifts a day, of four hours each, and it’s just a matter of finding a spot on a day of the week where you can give a bit of your time.

“For some people that may only be once a week, and it doesn’t always have to be a regular shift.”

Volunteers at Marine Rescue perform a variety of crucial tasks, including relaying the weather forecast to those out on the water, tracking vessels to ensure their safe journey, receiving and making radio calls, listening for distress signals and initiating search and rescue missions with the water police where necessary.

Fellow volunteer Richard Lamacraft says you don’t need a marine background to sign up, and believes that those who sign up can make a real difference.

“One of our best operators is now retired, but she had never been out on a boat until we took her out one day, and she was really good,” he said.

“Sometimes people log on and say they’re going fishing, and you might say to them, ‘Are you aware there’s a gale warning?’, and they’ll say, ‘No, what’s that about mate?’

“You don’t tell them not to go, but you make them aware of the situation when they might otherwise get themselves in a very awkward spot.

“Then there are other situations, like years ago we had a high school student who joined up and was on duty, and he saw a red distress flare and called the water police.

“The boat was rescued and the police found illegal arms on board, so we have a great view but there is a reason for it.”

The Eden Access Centre is another local service that relies heavily on volunteers, and manager Clare Whiter says that without those who donate their time, “the centre wouldn’t exist”.

Access Centre volunteers assist in a variety of ways including maintaining the centre’s website, providing agency services for Centrelink, and office-type services like photocopying, laminating and binding.

“We need to have at least two people per day; that way they’re company for each other, and it’s also for safety reasons,” Clare said.

“I wouldn’t be without volunteers, they’re just fantastic.

“We’re after as many people as we can get, and if we’re able to get enough that there are three of us on at a time, it frees up one of us to go out into the community and expand what we’re doing.”

The Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre has relied on volunteers since its opening, and operations assistant Kerryn Wood says additional help is always welcomed and appreciated.

Kerryn says volunteers are especially important during the busy school holiday period and major events like the Eden Whale Festival, but also during regular operating hours with jobs including aquarium management, developing and installing displays, running outdoor activities and general maintenance.

“What we do is create a calendar for two- or three-week periods and send it around to all our volunteers, and they populate the days and help out when they’re able to,” she said.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers and their help is fantastic.

“We also accept work experience students and university students doing placements here.”

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these organisations, please contact them on the following numbers:

- Marine Rescue Eden: 6496 2167

- Eden Access Centre: 6496 3970

- Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre: 6496 1699

- Eden Killer Whale Museum: 6496 2094