Coastguard takes bold step forward
Coastguard volunteers and members from around the country voted in favour of merging the organisation’s four regional entities and the national body at a Special General Meeting held last Saturday in Auckland.
“The need for change is clear,” says Coastguard Chief Executive Callum Gillespie. “Bringing the national body and the four regional entities together will enable Coastguard to be more efficient and effective in the development and delivery of strategies to meet challenges we face today and in the future.”
The most pressing of those challenges is to address Coastguard’s reducing volunteer numbers. Coastguard, like many volunteer powered organisations, is being impacted by changing trends in volunteering worldwide.
“Coastguard is an emergency responder which relies on volunteers,” says Mr Gillespie. “Without them, there would be no Coastguard.
“Last year we undertook a comprehensive survey of our volunteers, and it is evident that we need to take action if we are going to retain our incredible volunteers and attract new people to join Coastguard. Integrating the organisation into a strong entity will provide the platform we need to ensure Coastguard can continue to serve New Zealand communities and save lives at sea.”
Coastguard created its four regions in 2004 for the purpose of improving support to its units on the frontline, the decision made on Saturday will lift the support to units even further Mr Gillespie believes.
“We will continue to operate regional teams who will report directly to Coastguard New Zealand rather than through regional boards,” he says. “We will also be able to create a strong shared services model for HR, finance, technology, operations, marketing and fundraising that will enable us to better support our people, reduce overheads and realise efficiencies of scale previously unavailable to us.”
Last year alone, Coastguard’s 1,900 search and rescue volunteers gave more than 300,000 hours of their time across operations, training, admin, education and fundraising and brought 6,774 New Zealanders home safely.
“Having the right structure in place to support our volunteers will enable them to focus on doing what they joined Coastguard to do, helping other people and saving lives at sea,” says Mr Gillespie.