To the Rescue with Bendigo Bank

Image source: Contributed

The volunteers at Coast Guard Noosa keep our community safe on the water. Georgia Beard discovers the local Community Bank keeping this vital emergency service afloat.

With our culture entrenched in the ocean, the passionate volunteers at Coast Guard Noosa ensure our safety and security on the water. 

During December 2022, the not-for-profit organisation fielded more than 2600 radio calls, 250 phone calls, more than 430 trips, 68 activations and provided 24 incidents of assistance; not to mention being a beacon of the community supporting events like Noosa Tri, Clean Up Australia Day as well as the Noosa Waters Christmas Parade, Santa on the River and the Christmas Convoy. 

Founded in 1974 by a small group of boaties and commercial fishermen to provide first-response emergency services on the water, 24/7, this branch of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard provides direct law enforcement and works alongside other Emergency Services organisations including the Queensland Water Police. 

Volunteers work on a rotating roster released 12 months in advance, working one weekend in four and remaining on call throughout the week – talk about running a tight ship!

Flotilla Commander Ian Hutchings said their biggest challenge was people not maintaining their craft properly and heading out without a thorough check; jet skis breaking down on the challenging Noosa Bar and house boats untethering and damaging other craft.

To stay afloat, Coast Guard Noosa has to apply for grants from the Noosa Council every year as well as undertake fund raising and seek support from other sources, including sponsors. 

Every rescue mission they do on the water, big or small, is covered by the volunteer Coast Guard.

Recognising and assisting their vital lifesaving services, the local, community-owned branch of Bendigo Bank run by Sunshine Coast Community Financial Services Ltd (SCCFSL) has come to the rescue to fill the gap for a Major Sponsor of Coast Guard Noosa with a much-needed $30,000 per year over three years to assist with running costs.

Now the Coast Guard will be able to continue the considerable ongoing maintenance, fuel costs and general operation of one boat in the fleet, now renamed Bendigo Rescue with an official call sign response of the same name. 

For a not-for-profit organisation with a lifesaving operation that never sleeps, that’s a big deal.

“It’s give-and-take,” said Flotilla Purser Chris Strawson. “We bank with Bendigo Bank. They help us, we help them, and that helps the community. When you see the grateful look on somebody’s face after you have returned them safely to shore, it’s all worth it.”

With strong naval backgrounds, the volunteers are delighted to pass on their knowledge to new generations in Noosa.

They pay it forward with more than 50 services from scattering ashes at sea to free training for young sailors at the Noosa Yacht & Rowing Club; and educational courses in First Aid and CPR, Navigation, Bar Crossing, Marine Radio Licence, Basic Seamanship and Elements of Shipboard Safety. 

SCCFSL Chair Trish Radge said they were pleased to support Coast Guard Noosa to ensure the safety of the community on the water. 

“This is a major sponsorship for us and we salute the work of these skilled, professional and passionate locals,” she said. “Managing the Community Branches of Bendigo Bank at Tewantin, Cooroy and Marcoola, allows us to support the communities that support us and this is is just one of the community initiatives we get behind.”

Trish said a share of profits was also allocated directly to the branch managers to sponsor their communities.

In the Tewantin-Noosa and Cooroy branches, dedicated Art Spaces showcase local artists who can apply to be featured as one of the Artists in Residence.

The Retail Pop-Up in Tewantin-Noosa also allows small businesses to connect with customers and gain vital feedback and connections from bank customers; and the purpose-built, fully-equipped boardroom and meeting rooms are free for businesses and community groups to access for meetings and functions.

Larger requests are considered by the Sponsorship and Marketing Committee.

Apply for funding with SCCFSL at


Want to make a difference in your community and help save lives? Coast Guard Noosa are currently looking for volunteer radio operators! 

To volunteer, donate or register for an educational course, call 5474 3695 or visit


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