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Australian Waters Qualification

If you use a VHF marine radio only in Australian Territorial Waters (within 12 nautical miles of the coast), you should apply for an Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ).

The AWQ is a unit of competency (MARC019) included in the Maritime Training Package. The unit is the minimum mandatory qualification you must have to operate a marine radio. There is no minimum age requirement for the AWQ.

A copy of the syllabus is available at

Why do I need a qualification?

A marine radio can save lives. It’s important that:

  • you know the correct channels to use, and how and when to use them
  • you know distress and safety procedures, including how to access search and rescue facilities
  • you know how to respond to an emergency call
  • your messages are understood, and others know how to respond
  • you know what DSC is and the benefits of connecting a GPS to your radio
  • you know when and how to operate an EPIRB in a distress situation

Marine radiocommunications can also provide a variety of services to small vessels, including weather and navigational information.

Anyone operating a VHF marine radio without an appropriate qualification, or not under the supervision of an appropriately qualified person, may be breaching the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Significant penalties apply.

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