Participating in any sport has inherent risk. The sport of rowing has an additional set of risks due to being conducted on water, facing the opposite direction to travel, a coach or supervisor not always being in sight and sometimes being conducted at night.

As has been identified few several rowing stakeholder forums in recent times, also following a few significant on-water incidents, risk management around rowing training needs to be reviewed and improved to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all those that take part in the sport of rowing. To this end, a range of strategies are being put in place to make rowing training safer. This webpage will contain all the current information related to rowing training risk management as  and when it is developed and updated.


Rowing WA’s Safety Guidelines seek to ensure that personal safety is paramount and that local codes of practice and rules are upheld. In an effort to provide WA Rowing Clubs with practical hands-on resources, a Safety Assessment Checklist has been created to be used in conjunction with these safety guidelines and to assist in reviewing and developing safety procedures both on and off the water. They should also be viewed in conjunction with safety and other procedures developed by local government bodies.

In WA, regulations regarding the safe navigation of rowing boats on waterways are governed by State or even International Maritime Laws. This document seeks to complement those regulations and where those regulations are not evident, provide guidance.

The objective of this guideline is:

  • The promotion and communication of best practices for safety both on and off the  water to ensure the wellbeing for all participants and their surrounding communities.
  • Develop best practices for safety on a state level with emphasis towards an on-water code  of conduct for rowing in Western Australia
  • Provide practical and simple resources and guidelines to aid clubs and schools in their assessment and  development of adequate safety procedures




Under the Navigable Waters Regulations 1958 and the Western Australian Marine Act 1982, rowing coaching and safety vessels could not operate in a manner to provide the necessary support and instruction to rowing crews whilst training or officiating safely whilst competing. Rowing WA and the Department of Transport (Maritime) (DoT) work together to provide an instrument that provides sufficient exemptions from these Regulations and Act to ensure rowing training and events can be conducted appropriately whilst also ensuring the ongoing safety of rowers and other river users. This Speed Exemption is renewed every 1-2 years but reviewed in detail every few years to ensure user compliance and appropriate river user safety.

The current exemption is valid from: 1 August 2023 - 1 August 2025

There are several key updates on the current Exemption (from the previous exemption):

  • Preamble now specifically includes school rowing programs (as well as existing stakeholders: Rowing WA, Rowing Australia, WAIS and rowing clubs).
  • Condition 4: The operator of a Rowing Safety Vessel must annually complete an online acknowledgment that they have read and understood the requirements outlined within the relevant Rowing Training Water Safety Guidelines. Rowing WA will provide this online tool. A copy of this acknowledgment must be produced to DoT upon request (to be implemented by 1 February 2022).
  • Condition 8: The Rowing Safety Vessels have a suitable and operational orange 360-degree flashing light fitted and this is used always when the vessel is being used in accordance with this exemption between sunset and sunrise and/or at times of reduced visibility (to be implemented by 1 February 2022).
  • Condition 9: The operator of a Rowing Safety Vessel must hold, as a minimum, a Recreational Skippers Ticket.

Rowing WA has developed an online system to collect information related to Condition 4.


Please follow the link HERE to complete your Water Safety Accreditation

Please note that if you are a PSA or IGSSA school rowing coach without a Rowing WA or club membership, your Director of Rowing will need to send the relevant details to Rowing WA. They will manually create your certificate and send to you. 



It is the responsibility of rowing club presidents and school rowing program coordinators to ensure that their coaching/safety vessels meet the requirements and operators of these vessels are educated about and understands their obligations outlined in the conditions attached to the Speed Exemption. 

The Safety/Risk Management Plan for River-Based Regattas which forms part of the Speed Exemption is available here

Water Police, on-water Maritime Officers, fixed DoT river cameras, and reports from the general public are all tools utilized to ensure compliance by all rowing stakeholders and can lead to the prosecution of individuals or clubs/schools not aware of or not complying with the Speed Exemption. 

Rowing WA will continue to work with DoT to provide education to rowing clubs and school rowing programs on revised Speed Exemption conditions, common general public complaints and how to implement the Speed Exemption in your club or school.

Incident Form HERE

If you have any related questions please contact the Rowing WA Office on (08) 9364 3905.

Files available for download