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Australian Waters Qualification

If you’re a boater, you must have a VHF radio qualification. Knowing how to use a marine radio can save lives.

It’s important to know:

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

You must have a qualification or be supervised by a qualified person if you use a VHF marine radio in Australian territorial waters (within 12 nautical miles of the coast). You may be breaching the Radiocommunications Act 1992 if you don’t.

The Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ) is another name for the MARC059 - Transmit and receive information by marine VHF radio within Australian Territorial Waters. It is a study unit in the Maritime Training Package, which is developed by Australian Industry Standards and endorsed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The MARC059 unit – the AWQ – is available from registered training organisations (RTOs) that are qualified to test boaters and issue a statement of attainment. Most volunteer marine rescue groups are either an RTO or have a relationship with an RTO.

The RTO you choose should be able to give you information about what the unit covers and the assessment criteria, as well as answer any questions you may have.

For boaters operating a VHF station in Australian waters, this unit meets the requirements of the Radiocommunications (Maritime Ship Station – 27 MHz and VHF) Class Licence 2001.

Find out more about marine radio qualifications.

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