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The responsibility for Search and Rescue is shared between the states and commonwealth, The National SAR Manual and Inter-Governmental Agreements define those responsibilities although they are flexible arrangements so that the agency best placed to conduct the operation takes the lead and other agencies provide what support they can.

Australia has a massive SAR area of 52.8 million square Kilometres of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans. The Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA) has a department devoted to the Search and Rescue capability (AusSAR) nationally. They operate the 24 hour Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra and work with state and territory agencies to ensure effective SAR response is maintained. The RCC monitors the Australian Ship Reporting System (AUSREP) and are the receiving authority for satellite relayed activations of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) in aircraft and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) for land units. Internationally the COSPAS-SARSAT system of satellites detect beacon activations and pass the signal to the appropriate RCC via remote ground stations at Albany, Western Australia, Bundabery, Queensland and Wellington, New Zealand.

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