Australia's first dedicated training facility for marine rescue volunteers will be developed at Hungry Point Reserve, Cronulla.
The heritage-listed aquarium in the former fisheries research centre, which the state government closed in 2014, will become a training pool.
The state government announced funding of $12 million for the centre to be used primarily by the largely volunteer organisation, Marine Rescue NSW, which has been based at Hungry Point since 2013.
The centre will also be available to other emergency services from NSW and interstate, whose members use vessels as part of their operations.
Catering for up to 100 trainees a week, it will include a large lecture/meeting room, smaller classrooms equipped with marine simulators and other technological learning tools, practical outdoor training areas, accommodation and meal facilities.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott made the announcement on Saturday with Attorney-General and Member for Cronulla Mark Speakman.
"This state-of-the-art facility will ensure we have more fully trained first responders on the marine radio airwaves and water to rescue boaters in trouble," Mr Elliott said.
"Professional training is essential to equip every member of the team with the knowledge and skills they need to bring boaters home safely."
Mr Speakman said the training centre would ensure the preservation of the heritage values of Hungry Point Reserve and continue its use for maritime-related activities, while maintaining public access to the site's open parkland.
"This project will protect history of the reserve, stretching back to the earliest Indigenous inhabitants living here on Port Hacking, through to its later use as a migrant hostel and Department of Primary Industries fisheries research centre," he said.
"The training centre will also enhance the safety of our large and growing boating community in southern Sydney, with boaters able to undertake a number of courses to improve their own abilities on the water."
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said the centre would help make boating safer on NSW waterways by sustaining volunteer marine rescue services.
"The Hungry Point Reserve offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish a marine rescue centre of excellence," Mr Tannos said.
"This is the first training centre for marine rescue volunteers anywhere in the country and we are keen to share our expertise and facilities with our interstate colleagues for the benefit of their volunteers as well as our own."