Right now there are 13,000 seafarers circling Australia’s coastline distributing the iPhones, iron ore, and Ikea flat-packs which keep our economy ticking over.
While isolation, homesickness & mental health issues are ever present, the COVID-19 pandemic has made these challenges harder.
Humanitarian Crisis At Sea
Before the pandemic, most seafarers worked on ships for nine months at a time. Now, because crews can’t disembark due to myriad quarantine restrictions, they’re stuck aboard for as long as 18 months at a time.
A recent Yale University study found 1 in 5 international seafarers have thought about suicide or self harm in the last fortnight.
Each year 340,000 of these forgotten seafarers visit Australian ports.
It’s a floating humanitarian crisis.
Researchers at Cardiff University looking at international seafarers’ mental health recommended free and unlimited internet be made available to all international crew.
This is especially important for international crews, for whom the cost of international roaming is prohibitive and practical limitations prevent them from buying and maintaining a local SIM in every country they visit.
This allows seafarers to video chat with family and friends, access faith based groups and stay up to date with news from home, in their own language, while in our ports.
Seafarers can download courses and reading material and stream video content.
The case is then returned to shore when the vessel departs the port or terminal so it can be redeployed to the next ship.
The need is significant
Each year 17,000 vessels visit Australian ports. On each ship are about twenty crew. For these seafarers, keeping up with family and friends is a must for mental health.
Due to COVID they’re no longer able to come ashore to access on-shore services like cheap sim cards, phonecards, and other social, faith based and recreational services.
While in port Seafarer Connect can provide them free Wi-Fi so they can have some access to their friends, family and other social and recreational pursuits.
In light of the Delta variant all industry stakeholders from governments all the way through to port owners, users and shipping companies need to come on board with the delivery of Seafarer Connect.
While Seafarer Connect has teamed up with the Telstra Business Technology Centre Sydney City to design, assemble and distribute our Pelican briefcases, cost is becoming a factor.
Already Seafarer Connect has 14 devices at Port Botany, 6 at Port Kembla, 5 in Newcastle, 7 in Port Melbourne, 2 in Brisbane, 2 in Geraldton and 1 in Port Hedland, Albany and Kwinana.
And we’re hoping to soon have devices in Townsville. The full cost to build and deploy each device over 3 years is $16,750.
Help us reach our target
As a Not-for-Profit, we depend on the support of the maritime industry, government and individuals to fund our humanitarian work.
With every $17,000 raised we can purchase, deploy and maintain another Seafarer Connect device for three years.