On 29 July 2021, Defence received a request from Emergency Management Australia on behalf of the New South Wales (NSW) State Emergency Operations Centre, to provide Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to support the NSW Police with their response to the COVID-19 situation in Greater Sydney.
Brigadier Michael Garraway, Commander of Task Force 629, said the ADF would deploy up to 300 Defence personnel in the coming days to assist NSW authorities, serving the community. “Defence members will commence deploying today to undertake training over the weekend and start working under the direction of NSW Police,” said Garraway. “Our tasks will include assisting NSW police with conducting isolation and welfare checks, supporting NSW police presence patrols, transportation support, and logistics assistance. This will be in addition to approximately 250 Australian Defence Force personnel who are already supporting state authorities in New South Wales, with tasks such as quarantine compliance management at hotels and airports. Our people are there in support of the NSW Police and civilian authorities, and to serve the community.”
ADF support to the civil community is guided by the Australian constitution. ADF personnel supporting the COVID outbreak in NSW are not authorised as law enforcement officers, nor are they able to enforce health orders. “Our role is to assist New South Wales authorities do the important work they need to do in order to keep our communities safe,” said Garraway.
The ADF has worked closely with NSW and Federal authorities to support the community, including through bushfires and floods. Defence continues to work closely with these authorities to ensure Defence resources are allocated efficiently.