THE Australia branch of the charity Mission to Seafarers can now obtain government grants and claim a tax deduction for donations. This achievement is the most recent success story of HFW working with the Mission, which provides support to 1.5m seafarers across the globe.

Seafarers face piracy, shipwreck, fatigue, cultural and language barriers, abandonment and separation from loved ones each day.

The Mission to Seafarers provides assistance and support to these seafarers across the globe and works in more than 200 ports in 50 countries.

HFW is deeply entrenched within the shipping sector, and we have seen first-hand the effects that crisis management and long voyages can have on seafarers. We understand the challenges that seafarers face and we are deeply grateful for their dedication to their roles. HFW therefore provides legal, practical and financial support to The Mission to Seafarers to support its essential work.

Global impact
The Australian Council, which has the task of overseeing and supporting the work of all Mission to Seafarers centres located around Australia, in 2012 assisted in an incident where three seafarers were killed onboard the Sage Sagittarius.

The Australian Council co-ordinated ship visitation to assist the distressed crew and cared for the new seafarers who served on this vessel, as some of them carried psychological issues from this tragic incident.

In 2016, the Five Stars Fujian was anchored in Australian waters and had no food on board. The Australian Council co-ordinated a helicopter and organised food to be provided to the seafarers. Without the Council’s help, the crew would have been stranded and likely suffered considerably until the weather subsided.

Greater fundraising status
Apart from its ongoing advice, HFW has most recently negotiated with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission to grant the Australian Council “Public Benevolent Institution” status.

In Australia, in order to obtain government grants or claim a tax deduction for donations made to charitable organisations, the organisations themselves must be registered as a PBI subtype with ACNC and have Deductible Gift Recipient Status with the Australian Taxation Office.

The Mission to Seafarers relies on donations in order to be able to provide vital assistance to seafarers, however, the Australian Council has had considerable difficulty obtaining donations and funding given it has not had PBI Status (which is the stepping stone to DGR Status) until now.

Our recent success means the Australian Council can now seek government grants and funding to run the various branches of the Australian Mission to Seafarers.

Looking at the figures, it is evident why the charity relies on government grants and funding to provide its services. In 2016 alone, the Mission helped almost half a million seafarers aboard ships and supported more than 1000 justice and medical cases.

The Mission’s support ranges from helping seafarers keep in contact with their friends and families back home, to care and support in crisis situations.

We offer pro bono legal counsel to both help the charity resolve issues as they arise, but also support its effective governance on an ongoing basis and advise on compliance with local regulations in the regions in which the charity works.

Our work will help the Mission continue its ongoing support of thousands of seafarers around the world every day and we are proud of being able to support its essential welfare work around the globe.

Our partnership with the Mission to Seafarers also underlines the fact that the shipping industry places great value in the challenging work seafarers carry out on a daily basis.

* Ranjani Sundar is a senior associate at HFW

This article appeared in the June 2019 edition of DCN Magazine