Foreward to the First Edition 1993

The Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs is the peak organisation of walking clubs which promotes interest in safe and enjoyable bushwalking and conservation of the bush.

In 1949, a walker, Ambrose Howie, was lost at Wilson’s Promontory. There was no Police Search and Rescue Squad and the search operations were under the control of the local Police at Foster. Several experienced members of the Federation attended the search area and offered their services. Howie was not found, but the Police were impressed by the professionalism of the walkers. A report was made to Police Headquarters which resulted in an invitation being extended to discuss the formation of a Federation Search and Rescue Unit and this duly occurred.

Since then, the Federation has developed a soundly based administrative structure that has the capacity to support its considerable operational expertise in the areas of bushwalking, mountaineering, cross-country skiing and associated search and rescue skills.

Victoria is fortunate to have a diversity of natural terrain and an abundance of National Parks for the public to enjoy. Inevitably, the use of these facilities will lead to the inexperienced and, at times, the experienced adventurer finding themselves in difficult and often life-threatening situations.

Since its foundation, the Federation Search and Rescue Section has assisted inmost major searches conducted in Victoria. In that period, they have established an excellent rapport with the Victoria Police and, in particular, the Search and Rescue Squad.

The support of the employers of members of the Search and Rescue Section has been an essential component of the successful work of the Federation.

In 1989, I had the pleasure to present the Section with a Chief Commissioner’s Certificate in appreciation of its 40 years service to the public of Victoria. This Manual is indicative of the continuing professionalism of the Unit, and I commend it to you.

Kelvin Glare, Chief Commissioner of Police

Preface to the Second Edition 2003

The first editon of this manual, published in 1993, developed from a series of duplicated instruction booklets produced since 1949 by the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs Search and Rescue Section for its members. Over this period of more than 50 years much has changed, yet much remains the same.

The volunteer work of the Victorian bushwalking community in providing searchers when people are lost in remote bush areas is the basis for this manual. The information on bushwalking equipment, the skills and techniques utilised by bushwalkers when searching and the operational structure of what is now called Bushwalkers Search and Rescue (BSAR) have well and truly stood the test of time.

What has changed considerably is the support provided to searchers in the field, largely through technology in all its manifestations, and the growing community requirements for accountablity, particularly reflected here in much more detailed advice for those people in leadership positions in Bushwalkers Search and Rescue.

To this end, changes made in this second edition include:

  • further emphasis on the role of the searcher and the search group leader
  • expanded and elaborated information on the organisation and management of a search
  • updated information on communication and other search related technologies
    explanation of Bushwalkers Search and Rescue policies
  • more detailed and updated equipment requirements.

During the life of this manual further changes in the organisation and operation of Bushwalkers Search and Rescue will occur from time to time. Members will be kept updated through their Club Delegate and Bushwalkers Search and Rescue newsletter “Behind the Log”.

Manual Sub-Committee

Last Updated on February 17, 2021