Largely out of sight and out of mind there exists a worldwide workforce of around 1.5 million that is responsible for enabling many of the things we take for granted – such as the goods on our supermarket shelves, the electronic gadgets that have become indispensable to our lives, the cars we drive and all of the raw materials we export – getting to market.
They often work in dangerous conditions in the worst of the elements, spending many months at a time away from family and friends, generally for modest rates of pay. It can be a lonely existence, fraught with danger, which rarely earns any recognition.
They are the seafarers who crew the thousands of ships carrying the goods that enrich our lives to our ports. In luckier cases, they crew cruise ships.
Mission to Seafarers is an international organisation dedicated to meeting the practical, welfare and spiritual needs of seafarers. It’s based in over 200 ports, providing chaplains and volunteers. One of those ports is Brisbane, where it has been for 125 years and currently has premises near the berths at Fisherman Islands.
Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is a government regulator focused on maritime safety that historically has drawn some of its staff from the ranks of seafarers. It therefore has a natural affinity with the aims and objectives of Mission to Seafarers and over many years has helped to raise funds towards the Mission’s work.
We have long appreciated the role that organisations like Mission to Seafarers play in helping us to achieve our aims. While we strive to provide a regulatory regime, technology and services that promote a safer maritime environment, we are only too aware that a happy seafarer is likely to be less stressed, more focused and safer when it comes time to leave port. With this in mind it is worth noting that Mission to Seafarers Brisbane received over 11,000 seafarer visits in 2016.
Last weekend I was delighted and honoured, when attending Mission to Seafarers Brisbane Annual General Meeting, to accept on behalf of MSQ a Certificate of Appreciation from the Mission for our ongoing support for its work. That’s me in the back row, right hand side, keeping a suitably low profile for government, with other recipients of Certificates of Appreciation.
For me the award was a gentle reminder that the hearts of MSQ’s staff are in the right place and that this is appreciated by one of our major partners in seafarers’ wellbeing.
I hope that our mutually beneficial relationship in pursuing our shared objectives continues long into the future.