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Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council


Suicide prevention for seafarers: What does resilience mean?

13 December 2021

This webinar focused on the need to break the stigma associated with mental health across the maritime sector and addressed the use of best practices for mental health and suicide prevention. Participants also shared personal stories/experience and how they managed their mental health.

The webinar also provides a great resource for seafarers seeking help for themselves or colleagues.

The recorded webinar is available on the Maritime UK website.

Improving seafarer support in Australia through Port Welfare Committees

11 November 2021

The Maritime Labour Convention (2006), calls for the establishment of welfare boards at port, regional and national levels to support seafarer visiting these ports. In Australia the welfare of seafarers is supported by a growing number of Port Welfare Committees. These committees work actively to help identify the needs of seafarers, advocate for their wellbeing, and work with the national body supporting seafarer welfare – the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council.

There is a network of 13 Port Welfare Committees currently in operation Australia. The most recent additions include the opening of Port Welfare Committees in Bunbury and in the Port of Albany. The first meeting of the Port Welfare Committee for the Port of Albany was held on 22 October. It was attended by welfare providers, shippers, port authority, agents, AMSA, Australian Border Force, WA Police and WA Health Service.

As the world-wide pandemic continues to impact seafarers, port welfare committees and seafarer welfare organisations continue to look at new ways on how to support seafarers who can no longer leave their vessels while in Australian ports.

Australia proudly joins the International Maritime Organization and other nations to celebrate World Maritime Day

6 September 2021

On Thursday 30 September we celebrated World Maritime Day. The theme this year—Seafarers at the core of shipping’s future—shines a light on the vital role of seafarers and the need to provide supportive working conditions for them to continue providing this key service into the future.  

Australia is delighted to show our gratitude to seafarers around the world and acknowledge that without seafarers, there is no shipping industry. 

The Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO George Brandis, AMSA’s Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley and Manager Vessel Operations, Michelle Grech, each addressed the significance of the World Maritime Day theme this year. You can watch the recordings on the AMSA website.

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and assistance Network also paid tribute to the determination of seafarers and the important role they play in maintaining our vital supply chains. You can read the full article here: ISWAN | Celebrating seafarers on World Maritime Day (

Online resources support seafarer wellbeing

20 August 2021

The wellbeing of seafarers, their families, and shore staff is the focus of a new Wellness at Sea campaign now live on the AMSA website.

Seafarers face unique challenges keeping mentally and physically well which is why AMSA is proud to support this great initiative which provides free resources and information though podcasts, videos and posters to download and share with your team and wider networks.

These cover a range of wellbeing topics from ‘help in a crisis’ to emotional and physical wellness which have been developed to help care for the health and wellbeing of the people that power the shipping industry.

Please bookmark the campaign page at and check back regularly for the latest updates.

The importance of food, entertainment, social media and sports in seafarer social interactions

19 April 2021

The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has published an article describing the benefits of seafarers socialising outside of work as part of Phase One of their Social Interaction Matters Project. ISWAN found through surveys and interviews that barbeques and birthday parties, quizzes and card games, access to social media as well as table tennis were some of the most popular activities onboard for seafarers. They encourage shipping companies to work with their crew to provide varied and suitable activities in facilitating social interaction on board.

Read the full article about their findings on the ISWAN website.

ASWC signs the Neptune Agreement

9 April 2021

The Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council is proud to join more than 750 organisations across the globe as a signatory to the Neptune Declaration.

Established by the Global Maritime Forum, the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change is a worldwide call to action to resolve the global crew change crisis.  Covid-19 has impacted the daily lives and wellbeing of seafarers in unprecedented ways, causing a humanitarian crisis at sea.  Hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their contracts.  As the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90% of global trade, seafarers play a vital role in ensuring the global flow of goods that the world depends on.

The Neptune Declaration urges the implementation of four main actions to address the crisis:

  1. Recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
  2. Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
  3. Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
  4. Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers

As a national seafarers’ welfare board, the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council recognises its shared responsibility to ensure that the current crew change crisis is resolved as quickly as possible and to use the learnings from the crisis as an opportunity to build a more resilient maritime supply chain.  We call on our peers to join us in our efforts.

The industry-led Neptune Declaration has been welcomed by the IMO Secretary-General who has encouraged more companies to get involved and show their support for seafarers, as does the Australian Seafarers’ Welfare Council.  To learn more about The Neptune Declaration and how to become a signatory visit

The neptune declaration on seafarer wellbeing and crew change

Latest edition of the Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin is available

16 March 2021

The latest issue of the Maritime Safety Awareness bulletin focuses on the risk of losing shipping containers at sea.

Read the full article on the AMSA website.

Connecting seafarers with loved ones in an Australian-first wifi trial

9 March 2021

Mission to Seafarers, Maritime Safety Queensland and Gladstone Ports Corporation in collaboration with Insite Communications have launched an Australian-first trial that allows ships to access wifi from up to 20 kilometres from shore. This is an exciting new project, allowing seafarers, who are at sea for many months at a time, to connect with loved ones back home.

Read the full article on the ABC website

Seafarer social interaction matters

10 February 2021

ISWAN has released a Phase One report as part of the Seafarer Social Interaction Matters (SIM) project. The report details research on the relevant drivers and barriers to the promotion of social interaction and specific activities which seafarers around the world identified as helping to engage them on board ships.

This important three phase project was initiated with the primary objective of encouraging social interaction on board and is sponsored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Red Ensign Group.

Read the report or find out more information about the SIM Project.

Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on seafarers

17 December 2020

The work of seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been critical to ensure the global supply chain of essential goods and equipment. However, the recognition of seafarers as key workers is often being neglected, adding challenges to their regular occupational safety and health issues. This prompted researchers around the world to assess the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of seafarers. Two webinars were held (Sweden and Australia) to share the findings of this research with four panels of professionals in this field contributing to the discussion.

Watch the webinar

New guidance to promote the mental health of seafarers

14 December 2020

Due to the challenges of COVID-19 and the effect on seafarers, ISWAN have released new guidance to promote the mental health of seafarers. The guidance provides shipping companies and operators with information to implement mental health policies and practices to protect seafarers mental health at sea.

A copy of the first edition can be found on the ISWAN website.

Maritime Mental Health Awareness Training online

23 November 2020

International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network are now offering Maritime Mental Health Awareness Training online. Learn to understand mental health, recognise the signs of mental health problems and respond to concerns on board with the first training sessions being offered in December 2020

Find out more and book your place

Marine incident data helping to improve maritime safety

20 October 2020

We have released the annual report of marine incidents reported from regulated Australian and foreign flagged vessels in Australian waters. It includes an analysis of reported marine incidents during 2016 to 2019, with a focus on 2019 data.

Incidents can result in loss of life, loss of income and loss of reputation. So when an incident occurs we need to report, consider, learn and respond by taking the right actions to improve safety outcomes.

Through the analyses of trends, marine incident reporting helps inform future approaches to managing safety. The information from the report is used to support and implement safety.

Read the full report on the AMSA website

Summary of reported incidents

Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin—Issue 12 now available

15 September 2020

The situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on seafarer mental health and wellbeing around the globe.

This issue of the Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin focuses on managing mental health at sea. It provides information and guidance on ways to help alleviate the effects of stress, the importance of supporting crew, and identifying signs of possible mental health problems.

Read the latest edition now.

Seafarers Welfare Award

26 August 2020

Last year at the Daily Cargo News (DCN) Shipping & Maritime Industry Awards, Mr Kewa was presented with the Seafarers Welfare Award. Mr Kewa is the Chaplain at the Mission to Seafarers in Port Kembla dedicating 15 years to the industry, known for his warmth, kindness and compassion. Mr Kewa received a cash prize which will go towards furthering the Mission’s work in Port Kembla.

Read the full article.

ASWC Welcomes the new Port Welfare Committee for Bunbury

10 August 2020

ASWC is pleased to announce the newly established Port Welfare Committee for the Port of Bunbury who had their first meeting on Thursday 6 August at the Mission to Seafarers Centre. The committee has representation from welfare providers, shippers, port authority, agents, AMSA and Australian Border Force. Their first meeting included discussions around COVID-19, how it’s impacting on seafarer repatriation and crew change, and what the port community is doing to assist the seafarers in these difficult times.

Port Welfare committee group at Bunbury.

Seacare—seafarer resource centre

21 July 2020

Seacare now have a mental health resource centre on their website.

The centre looks at how the nature of seafarers work can affect an individual’s wellbeing, such as isolation from family or community supports and other factors impacting mental health.

It also provides a great list of resources for seafarers seeking help for themselves or colleagues.

Visit the Seacare resource centre

Stranded merchant seaman

21 July 2020

This 14 minute interview broadcasted on Saturday 18 July 2020 with Guy Platten (General Secretary of the International Chamber of Shipping) and  Helen Joyce (executive editor with The Economist) was a follow up to an editorial published in The Economist discussing the rise in the daily total of stranded seafarers at sea.

Supporting your crew

10 July 2020

Ensuring good mental health is not merely a matter for the individual.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have released new guidance for operators and masters detailing strategies to help you look after your crew’s wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. By doing so, your operation will run more effectively and you will retain happier and more productive employees.

This guidance provides practical information on identifying uncharacteristic crew behaviours and ways to combat the effects of poor mental health. It lists resources and support services, which we encourage you to share with your crew and help them to recognise the signs that someone is not okay.

You can find this guidance on the AMSA website.

Survey for international seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic

2 July 2020

If you are currently working on an international vessel, a joint university research team want to hear about your experiences at sea during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aim of the survey is to understand how the pandemic is effecting international seafarers and to identify factors that may help crews in the future.

The survey will take you about 30 minutes to complete. There are no right or wrong answers. You will be asked about your experiences on board, as well as background questions about you and your ship.

The research project is being carried out by an international team of researchers from the University of Queensland Australia, Royal Holloway University of London, the World Maritime University Sweden, and Uppsala University in Sweden.

Your contribution is confidential and will be used to make recommendations to improve life at sea.

Complete the survey.

COVID-19 Shipping saluting the unsung maritime heroes

30 June 2020

This month as part of the ISWAN expert members briefing, Natalie Shaw of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) discusses the impact of COVID-19 from a shipowner’s perspective, responding to some of the points in last month’s brief – what does COVID-19 mean for seafarers now and in the future. She highlights the important work ICS are doing in these challenging times.

ICS Guidelines—Mental Health Guidance for Seafarers

9 June 2020

The international Chamber of Shipping have UPDATED the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers.
This guidance includes a section on Mental Health Guidance for Seafarers (Section 5) providing further guidance and sources of information to manage physical symptoms triggered by stress and anxiety during these difficult times.

What does COVID-19 mean for seafarers now and in the future?

9 June 2020

ISWAN monthly members-only expert briefing written by Mark Dickinson (General Secretary of Nautilus International) focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers and some of the initiatives currently in place and planned for the future.

Read: ISWAN article—What does COVID-19 mean for seafarers now and in the future?

Maritime Labour Convention—2019 Annual Report

18 May 2020

The Maritime Labour Convention 2019 annual report presents an analysis of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) complaints, compliance and follow up actions undertaken in Australia.

The data represents 2019 statistics, with a comparison of previous years since the MLC was implemented.

Research shows that the most dangerous risk to seafarers is not from job-related accidents, but social conditions on board, both at sea and in port. Fatalities associated with social causes are the largest group.

See the report on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.

Health at sea during COVID-19—ISWAN

4 May 2020

Like most other organisations at the moment, our work has had to take an unexpected change in direction as we focus on providing support for seafarers and their families affected by COVID-19. Our helpline and regional teams have been working extremely hard to assist the increased number of seafarers who need help during this time. There are a number of useful resources for seafarers on the ISWAN health at sea webpage.  This includes a video on Managing Mental Health we produced with Dr Kate Thompson and a seafarers’ FAQs on COVID-19 with the support of Nautilus International.

Information about maritime labour and coronavirus—International Maritime Organization

9 April 2020

‘The International Labour Organization has published an information note on maritime labour issues and coronavirus (COVID-19). The document covers aspects such as seafarer health and safety, repatriation, expiry of seafarers employment agreements, minimum manning, social protection amongst others. Of note is paragraph 41 which discusses shore leave as follows:

'Under Regulation 2.4, paragraph 2, of the MLC, 2006, seafarers shall be granted shore leave to benefit their health and well-being and consistent with the operational requirements of their positions. Maritime authorities must continue to respect this obligation, without prejudice to the proportionate and specifically adopted measures to minimize the risk of contagion. Access to port-based welfare services should also be ensured, as far as possible, during the COVID-19 pandemic.'

We have the full report available.

Fatigue guidelines: Managing and reducing the risk of fatigue at sea

3 April 2020

Cover of fatigue guidelinesFatigue can have serious consequences for the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety and the marine environment.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have released new guidelines based on the International Maritime Organization Guidelines on Fatigue (MSC.1/Circ. 1598.) and are aimed at regulated Australian and foreign flagged vessels.

The fatigue guidelines provide information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment. It will assist all stakeholders to better understand their roles and responsibilities in managing the risk of fatigue.

The fatigue guidelines are available on AMSA’s website.

Innocent seafarers caught in vulnerable socio-economic-political climate of Gulf of Guinea

2 April 2020

In 2018, the International Labour Organization approved amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 relating to the protection of seafarers’ wages and entitlements while they are held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships. These MLC amendments will enter into force on 26 December 2020.

ISWAN has produced a paper about this subject called Innocent seafarers caught in vulnerable socio-economic-political climate of Gulf of Guinea.

Managing mental health during the COVID-19 crisis

27 March 2020

ISWAN launched a new video aimed at seafarers, providing information and guidance about managing mental health during the COVID-19 crisis. Please see their video.

ISWAN also have a range of mental health self-help guides and information on COVID-19. SeafarerHelp is available 24 hours, seven days a week.

Welfare to well-being—a changing emphasis in service to seafarers

27 March 2020

ISWAN released an article entitled Welfare to well-being—a changing emphasis in service to seafarers touching on the gradual shift in how seafarers’ needs have been defined by welfare organisations and the wider industry.

The article discusses the increase in awareness that protecting seafarers is not just about physical health or safety—as important as these are—but also mental health.

International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network—new video

20 March 2020

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has released a new video focusing on the risks posed to Indian seafarers who sign up to unlicensed crewing agencies.

Technology and seafarers mental wellbeing

4 December 2019

The Seafarer Times article Can technology improve mental wellbeing for seafarers?looks at the role technology plays in improving seafarer well-being, and highlights the pros and cons technology can have on those working at sea.

Mental health and seafarers: It’s time to talk

4 December 2019

Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurer, Gard, has published insights on the mental health of seafarers and what can be done to break the taboo surrounding mental illness. The article addresses the challenges of dealing with mental illness and encourages seafarers to talk about their mental health.

Read the article Mental health and seafarers: It’s time to talk on the Gard website.

Mental Health Awareness Training Course

12 November 2019

International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) are holding a one-day Mental Health Awareness Training course in London for attendees to gain a better understanding of mental health at sea and how to support crew.

The training course includes discussions, presentations and practical activities in pairs and small groups.

Designed by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, the course covers:

  • mental health awareness
  • recognising the signs of mental health problems and
  • how to respond to concerns.

More information can be found on the Tapiit Maritime courses webpage.

Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council meeting

24 October 2019

The Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council (ASWC) meeting was held last week at the Mission to Seafarers in Brisbane.

The meeting was chaired by Steve Curry, with Michelle Grech, Natalia Symes and Alex Harding attending for AMSA.

Alex was introduced as the secretariat and members from different parts of industry and seafarer welfare groups attended to discuss seafarer welfare initiatives around Australia. The next meeting will be held in February 2020.

Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin—Issue 10

15 October 2019

The tenth issue of the Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin is now  available online.  

Following the success of the previous issue which looked at system maintenance, this issue focuses on safe vessel access.

Safe vessel access is critical for the safety of everyone involved in embarking and disembarking a vessel, including the crew who rig them.

This issue looks at safe rigging of access equipment, managing the risks for personal safety while rigging, and maintenance and inspection of access equipment. It also covers some case studies and incident and inspection data related to safe access.

ASWC Members meet in Sydney

24 June 2019

The ASWC meeting was held on the 20th June at the International Transport Federation office in Sydney. The meeting was Chaired by Steve Curry, with Michelle Grech and Natalia Symes (Secretariat) attending from AMSA. As always we had members representing different parts of industry and seafarer welfare groups, plus guests from Sydney, Port Kembla and Brisbane Port Welfare Committees.

An invitation was extended to the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers and Port Welfare Committee after learning that they were days away from closing down. As a group we heard their plight and agreed that we would do what we could to help.  

A few hours later following the ASWC meeting we got the news that the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, The Hon Jackie Trad, announced that the state budget would include a $100,000 grant to keep the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers open. This was welcome news as it ensures that seafarers visiting the port will continue to receive the respite and welfare support they need when there so far from home. ASWC will continue to actively support the Gladstone’s and other Mission to Seafarers around Australia.

The next ASWC meeting is scheduled for September in Brisbane.

Maritime Centenary Challenge

16 May 2019

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) has modernised the international experience in regulating decent living and working conditions for seafarers since 1920, and came into force in 2013. The convention has now been ratified by 93 member states, which represent more than 91% of the world merchant shipping fleet.

The international community is invited to further support the efforts to ensure decent work for more than 1.5 million seafarers and a level playing field for shipowners. The International Labour Organisation is promoting 100 ratifications of the MLC, 2006 to celebrate its Centenary.

The MLC vote to STOP Bullying

16 May 2019

In an effort to eliminate shipboard bullying and harassment, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) have voted to bring these serious issues under Regulation 4.3 – health and safety protection and accident protection code. Three changes have been made which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing on-board.

Seafaring has long been considered a tough occupation due to the rough conditions that prevail at sea, and seafarers are not invincible to the adversities.

The UK P&I Club have released a ‘crew health advice’ paper which recognises the negative effect that bullying and harassment can have on seafarers overall wellbeing. The paper also defines harassment and bullying and suggest action plans that companies and agents can implement. Read the Eliminating shipboard bullying and harassment article.

Seafarer access to shore in the United States

12 April 2019

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has published a Final Rule, effective 1 May 2019, requiring owners and/or operators utilising maritime facilities regulated by the USCG to implement a system to provide free access to maritime personnel (ie seafarers, pilots, seafarer welfare representatives, etc) between vessels moored at these facilities and the facilities gate. This will allow seafarers in particular, access to shore based welfare facilities without hindrance.

As in all ports, seafarers maybe at sea for days, weeks, or months at a time and access to shore based welfare services is essential for seafarers and their family and friends. Read more on this subject on the US Goverment Information website.

Research study on loneliness and well-being among seafarers

24 April 2018

London Metropolitan University (Tiffany Palmer, Health Psychologist in Training) is conducting research looking at loneliness and psychological wellbeing among seafarers. The research includes an open invitation to current and retired seafarers (particularly those seafarers on longer contracts) to participate in a confidential survey. The data collected will be analysed to identify whether patterns exist between age, rank, nationality, type of ship, size of crew, length of contract with loneliness and well-being. The aim is to reach a wide distribution of seafarers to provide for a more robust data set. This research will provide valuable information on social isolation, loneliness and its effect on mental health.

If you are a seafarer please spare ten minutes to complete the Loneliness and well-being among seafarers survey.

Your answers are completely anonymous. Your answers will NOT be shared with anyone (including shipping company, manning agency, master). Your answers will ONLY be shared with the researches conducting this work.

Safety culture in the maritime industry

29 March 2018

Working on a vessel can be extremely high-risk, with seafarers reportedly up to 27.8 times more likely to suffer work-related fatal injuries compared to the general shore-based workforce.

A recent study has uncovered new insights into seafarer safety and wellbeing by examining the influence of organisational safety culture.

The study—conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the University of Queensland, and the University of Western Australia—surveyed 1026 seafarers, representing ships and crew of the 23 flag States regularly coming into Australian ports.

The findings of the study fell into seven key areas often inter-relating.

  • Safety culture
  • Work demands
  • Fatigue and sleep
  • Organisational priorities
  • Mental health
  • Wellbeing
  • Safety behaviours.

Following on from the learnings of the study, it has been recommended that seafarer safety and wellbeing on board ships be improved by improving work rules and procedures, the implementation of effective fatigue risk management systems into safety management systems, and by increasing the level of support seafarers receive while on board.

Read the full report on the AMSA website.

Psychological Wellbeing at Sea

18 December 2017

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) recently published a Guide for Seafarers on Psychological Wellbeing at Sea. This aims to provide an understanding on positive mental health and psychological wellbeing. The guide has drawn together some of the best evidence available and proposes some practical strategies for maximising psychological wellbeing. Some of the topics covered include: Positive relations with others, Physical Health and Finding Support.

The guide can be found in the news section of the ISWAN website.

ITF Seafarers
Ports Australia
Australian Shipowners Association
Shipping Australia Limited
The Australian Mariners' Welfare Society
Mission to Seafarers
Stella Maris