Aspendale Beach: bureaucratic nightmare sinks swimmers in fight for public safety

Aspendale Beach - Cameron Howe
Cr Tamsin Bearsley and Ken Aylen at Gnotuk Avenue, Aspendale Beach by Cameron Howe

Cameron Howe, The Mordialloc Chronicle
November 28, 2017

The safety of swimmers is still compromised at the popular Aspendale Beach, despite overwhelming support to end the potentially lethal mix of swimmers and jet skis.

Aspendale’s Gnotuk Avenue currently has a no boating zone that finishes in the middle of the car park, which has caused anger amongst local residents, as it has resulted in powered watercraft being permitted within the immediate swimming area. 

Parks Victoria undertook the Boating Zone Review a year ago to propose improvements to boating and swimming zones. The review concluded that the navigational markers should be relocated at Gnotuk Avenue, which is supported by the City of Kingston.

Aspendale local Ken Aylen, who has enjoyed summers for more than 30 years at his Gnotuk Avenue beachbox, fears a catastrophe is just waiting to happen. “They’ve taken 100 metres of a family swimming beach away and that is just not common sense,” Mr Aylen said.

Mr Aylen has been raising his concerns with authorities for the past few years in relation to operators of jet skis and windsurfers passing swimmers in close proximity, sometimes at excessive speeds. However has grown frustrated of his concerns being hand-balled from the Council onto state government departments, without the implementation of a resolution, and joins likeminded locals who feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously.

“If they were fair dinkum, then they would be making this a top priority,” he said.

Recommendations by Parks Victoria were submitted to Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) in July, however ahead of the busy summer period these recommendations have still not been accepted by the authority.

Sources have confirmed that in till the changes are accepted, funding cannot be made available for the relocation of navigational markers and installation of adequate signage. When contacted MSV pointed the finger at Parks Victoria and would not comment on the timeline for the implementation of the proposed changes.

According to Director of MSV, Peter Corcoran, funding and timelines are matters for Parks Victoria to manage.

Councillor Tamsin Bearsley said that she was frustrated that we were now heading into our fourth summer without any action.

“There have been several near misses and I am very concerned for the safety of swimmers,” she stressed. “We need action now.”

It is understood that Labor MP for Mordialloc, Tim Richardson has expressed concern and will take action to ensure that the proposed changes are prioritised. 

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