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General Information - A Proud History

A Proud History

If contributions to the promotion of recreational scuba diving in Victoria are to be a measure of success, then the Victorian Sub-Aqua Group’s historical reputation is truly unsurpassed!

The VSAG was formed in the early summer of 1954 and very quickly affiliated with the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermans Association, the peak body at that time in Australia. The aims of the club were stated as... "to encourage and further the sport of diving with self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, and to develop and aid the relevant technical and scientific knowledge." At the time of the club’s formation, 90% of the scuba gear owned by club members was home made!

The Club’s Patron was no less than Capt. W. O. Shelford, RN, rtd. Bill Shelford was in command of the Royal Navy’s Experimental Diving Unit during the 1940’s, where the great body of knowledge of deep, military and medical aspects of diving was formed, with the aid of some very heroic diver volunteers.

Amongst the most talented VSAG members was recreational dive pioneer Bill Young, VSAG’s first Hon. Secretary. Bill made his own scuba gear at home after copying what was probably the first Siebe Gorman (Ess Gee brand) scuba set brought to Australia by Ivor Howitt, another pioneer recreational diver who emigrated from the UK.

To say that the founding members of VSAG were dedicated is truly an understatement! In fact, it was that very strong foundation prepared by those first enthusiastic committee members, which has allowed the club to remain vibrant and prosper for almost fifty years. Right from the start, the club was well structured and constituted with operational and strict safety procedures recorded in the form of a log/information book, which was issued to all members. The club’s motto "Safety in Diving" has been proudly and rigorously upheld over the last five decades. In 1958, the PMG (now Tesltra) issued the VSAG with a licence to operate two mobile radios on Port Phillip to bolster their diver safety policy. Surely a first for a scuba club in Victoria!

One of the most dedicated members during the formation of the club was Jim Ager (later of Airdive Equipmnet P/L fame). Jim, in his position as Hon. Secretary during the mid-1950’s, was a prolific letter writer and marketing man for the VSAG. He wrote introducing the club and offering its divers services to organisations such as Victoria Police, Olympic Games Committee, CSIRO, Museum of Victoria, The Field Naturalists Club of Vic, Fisheries & Research Dept, yacht clubs and all of the media including newspapers and the newly formed TV companies. Regular scuba displays were organised at the Melbourne City Baths to promote scuba diving and advertised with the assistance if the media focussing on this new sport. Close contact was maintained with other scuba clubs, around Australia and New Zealand, as well as the famous BSAC in the UK and the VSAG was known throughout the country, as one of the most influential and professional recreational scuba clubs of the era, in Australia.

Recreational diver instruction followed as a function of the Club, when Australian made PORPOISE brand scuba gear began to appear on the market in the mid-1950’s. The VSAG at that time, considered that the growing number of new divers were safer with them and under their guidance, than off by themselves completely untrained with a brand new scuba kit.

VSAG launched their first club magazine in 1956 and even sold advertising space for clients such as the Melbourne Sports Depot within its pages. Copies of VSAG’s FATHOMS magazine have been lodged with the State Library of Victoria, for safe-keeping, ever since. The Club was formally Incorporated in Victoria, in January 1964, which was also unusual for sports clubs of that era.

It is also possible to link the birth of other famous recreational diving organisations with the VSAG. In 1961, VSAG put aside 10 pounds as a "seed fund" to form the current Scuba Divers Federation of Victoria (SDFV), which still represents non-commercial diving club interests within the State. The Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria (MAAV) was also formed by VSAG member David Carroll together with dive legend Peter Stone. This association is a very powerful and enthusiastic force within the field of maritime heritage and works very closely today, with Heritage Victoria’s, Maritime Heritage Unit. In 2006 the Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) was founded by VSAG members John Lawler, Alan Storen and Mick Jeacle with seed funding from VSAG.

Over the last fifty years there has been some outstanding service given to VSAG by many talented members and professionals to keep the Club a leader in its field. There are dozens of past members, who well and truly deserve recognition in an article such as this, but there simply is not enough room to do so. They know who they are and the Club will forever be in their debt.

VSAG Scuba Diving Refuge Cove, Wilsons Promontory 1985

Safety In Diving

Published on: 2006-11-18 07:26:51 (7474 reads)

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