Eden is a beautiful deep water harbour where the breadth of its natural beauty and glorious moods are matched by the variety of its seafaring activity.
The port has everything from canoes to cargo ships, tour vessels to tugs.
Its working community includes slipway services, water police, shipping agents, Border Force officers, Navy personnel and many more. There are recreational craft and fishing enterprises. There are volunteers engaged in marine rescue, welfare and welcome roles.
In volume of boating traffic, it may not be a big port, but Eden has a breadth that surpasses many larger ports.
In recognition to this breadth of activity, representatives from organisations associated with the port met at the Eden Fishermen’s Club on October 23 to form a Port Welfare Committee. This meeting, with its resulting committee, followed several conversations between the Eden harbour master/pilot, Captain Paul Webster, and the Mission to Seafarers chaplain, Reverend Michael Palmer.
The newly formed committee provides a forum where all those involved with seafarers’ welfare can meet regularly, share information, provide mutual support and generally network.
“Welfare needs can vary greatly. Sometimes misadventure results in seafarers stranded in Eden or needing travel assistance to be reunited with family,” Reverend Palmer said.
“International seafarers are on long contracts away from family and, by necessity, vessel bound. They work long hours, often at repetitive tasks.
“Reports of mental health issues at sea have become commonplace, and data indicates that seafaring is an occupation with increased risk of suicide. On arrival in port the opportunity for shore leave is welcomed but is definitely less important than establishing communication with home.
“It’s tough to be absent for the birth of a child or the death of a parent,” he said.
“I frequently chat with seafarers who are worried about family and have teared up during a conversation. The Mission to Seafarers is an international welfare organisation which is recognised by all international seafarers and so our arrival at ‘the log and chip’ ships is warmly received.”
Reverend Palmer said there was “great energy” at the gathering to form the Port Welfare Committee (PWC) for Eden.
“Our hope is that the PWC will be a great forum to ensure the maintenance and furtherance of welfare facilities and services for all our seafarers. We look forward to a growing number of delegates at our next meeting, which is set for early in 2019.”