Skip to main content
Australian Seafarers' Welfare Council

ASWC - Terms of Reference

April 2021


Under the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) there are clear guidelines for the establishment and maintenance of national welfare boards. The Convention (which has been ratified by Australia) lays down under “Regulation 4.4 – Access to shore-based welfare facilities”, that Members should “take measures to ensure that adequate welfare facilities and services are provided for seafarers in designated ports of call and that adequate protection is provided to seafarers in the exercise of their profession”. It also emphasises under Guideline B4.4.3 – Welfare boards:

  1. "Welfare boards should be established, at the port, regional and national levels, as appropriate. Their functions should include:
    1. keeping under review the adequacy of existing welfare facilities and monitoring the need for the provision of additional facilities or the withdrawal of underutilized facilities; and
    2. assisting and advising those responsible for providing welfare facilities and ensuring coordination between them.
  2. Welfare boards should include among their members representatives of shipowners’ and seafarers’ organizations, the competent authorities and, where appropriate, voluntary organizations and social bodies.
  3. As appropriate, consuls of maritime States and local representatives of foreign welfare organizations should, in accordance with national laws and regulations, be associated with the work of port, regional and national welfare boards.”


The provision of appropriate welfare services for all seafarers visiting Australian ports.


Membership of the Council is drawn from both national and local organisations that have an interest in, or contribute to, the welfare of seafarers. Organisations should nominate one representative each, except for Mission to Seafarers which can nominate two representative, one each for East and West areas.

Generally, membership is not available to private individuals. However, if agreed by the Council by vote, exceptions may be made and a standing invitation for membership may be offered to a private individual. Private individuals may be invited to attend meetings when appropriate. Membership will be reviewed by the Council on an annual basis.

Membership shall be made up from the following organisations as at 31 March 2021:

  • Australian Mariners Welfare Society
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Australian Transport Safety Bureau
  • Hunterlink EAP
  • International Transport Workers’ Federation
  • Maritime Industry Australia Limited
  • Mission to Seafarers (East)
  • Mission to Seafarers (West)
  • Ports Australia
  • RightShip
  • Shipping Australia Limited
  • Stella Maris Australia


4.1 Frequency
The Council will meet three times per annum and will endeavour to meet within the following periods:

  1. late February
  2. late June
  3. late October

4.2 Location
The Council will endeavour to hold meetings at venues connected with the welfare of seafarers and that provide support to Port Welfare Committees and those intending to form Port Welfare Committees. Meetings may also be held virtually via Microsoft Teams when appropriate.

4.3 Agendas
The secretariat will make a call to members for agenda items and papers at least 3 weeks prior to meetings. A finalised agenda and supporting papers will be circulated by the secretariat via email at least 1 week prior to a meeting.

4.4 Quorum
A quorum normally consists of not less than 50 per cent of members. Notwithstanding this, the Chair, in consultation with the secretariat, has the right to decide whether the numbers attending are sufficient to allow a meeting to be effective.

4.5 Absence
Members are asked to notify the secretariat, giving as much notice as possible, if they are unable to attend a meeting. This will enable the consideration of an alternative date if there are only small numbers of members available.
If a member is unable to attend a meeting, they may nominate an alternate to attend a meeting on their behalf.

Any member who has missed three consecutive meetings, without apology, will be approached by the Chair to confirm their willingness to continue to represent their organisation. Any member who has not attended for five successive meetings, with or without apologies, will be considered to have retired and a replacement nomination shall be sought from their parent organisation.

4.6 Declaration of interests
If a matter requiring a decision by the Council concerns, or affects, one of the organisations represented at the meeting the representative(s) must declare an interest.

4.7 Voting
On occasions where the Council is required to vote, there will be one vote only per member present. The Chair shall have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

4.8 Members' reports to the council
Members and the organisations they represent are encouraged to report briefly on their recent activities and draw to the attention of the Council any issues that they consider may have local, national or international significance, ideally by submitting a paper in advance of a meeting. Such papers will be attached to the agenda in order that other members may consider the issues and/or make recommendations. In the absence of a written paper, members will be encouraged to verbally report matters of interest.

4.9 Secretariat
Secretariat services and support will be provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The duties of the secretariat include the preparation and distribution of agendas and papers, recording and distribution of minutes, management of communication, record keeping and liaison with members.


The Council member representing AMSA will be the Chairperson.


The Council will maintain contact with, and membership of, the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN).


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