The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has expanded its support to Victoria’s COVID-19 response, with around 1,400 personnel deployed in Victoria at the request of State authorities.

A screenshot of the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking site. To access the live site, click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

The ADF’s current tasks include:

  • Around 300 ADF personnel providing support to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in contact tracing, data management, logistics and planning;
  • More than 200 personnel supporting Victoria Police, including at checkpoints, in logistics, planning, the Police Assistance Phone Line, and CBD community engagements;
  • About 200 medical personnel supporting public health testing in Melbourne and four regional centres: Shepparton, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Horsham;
  • 20 personnel are undertaking general duties training with Ambulance Victoria so Defence can support paramedics with the transport of non-emergency patients if required;
  • Accompanying DHHS authorised officers who are visiting homes to provide infection notifications to those uncontactable by phone;
  • Assisting Emergency Management Victoria’s Regional Control Centre and its Incident Management Team (IMT) in Colac and Castlemaine; and
  • Planning support to the Victoria State Control Centre.
Colonel Graham Goodwin, Commander JTG 629.4 (centre) speaks with Australian Army soldiers from 16 Regiment Royal Australian Artillery as part of Operation COVID Assist.

Defence has personnel ready to provide further support to aged care facilities and at the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. (PHOTO: Government File Photo)

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Defence is well prepared to assist. “This is a complex and evolving situation, but Australians can be confident Defence is always ready to assist in times of need. In addition to the Joint Task Force personnel in Victoria, we have embedded senior ADF officer, Commodore Mark Hill RAN, in DHHS to provide advice on command and coordination arrangements to boost their capacity to respond to the crisis. The ADF has highly trained and capable personnel with their skills that can be used in a variety of settings depending on the task. When the call came, ADF nurses were on the ground in an aged care facility supporting residents in less than two hours, demonstrating their flexibility and professionalism. Defence is also benefitting from the partnerships it built with Victorian agencies during the devastating bushfires in Victoria. “Whether it’s in frontline medical roles or in complex planning, Defence is expanding and amplifying the capabilities of Victorian agencies to stop the spread and save lives,” Reynolds said.

An Australian Army Medic tests a member of the public at a COVID-19 testing site in Fawkner, Victoria.

Contributing to the Whole-of-Government COVID-19 response is Defence’s main effort. There are currently about 3,200 ADF personnel deployed around the country providing support to state and territory authorities on Operation COVID-19 Assist.

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