An historic compulsory Call-Out of Australian Defence Force Reserve Brigades was announced on Saturday by the Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and the Prime Minister. It will add up to 3000 reservists to support fire-affected communities.
The priorities for the deployment are to:
- assist in ensuring the safety of people
- support the evacuation of affected people from isolated communities
- provide assistance to isolated communities and
- support state-managed evacuation centres.
Specialist reservists with skills in engineering, medical, logistics and transport will boost the capacity of emergency authorities across fire-affected areas. Those already volunteering with emergency services, or defending their own properties in fire-affected areas will be exempt.
The Call-Out Order was issued by the Governor General, David Hurley, on Saturday morning following a request by the government.
Defence has appointed Major General Jake Ellwood, Commander 1st Division, as the National Support Coordinator for their support to bushfire response efforts.
It was also announced on Saturday that the HMAS Adelaide, the Navy’s largest amphibious ship, will join HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore in supporting evacuation of citizens from fire-affected areas along the south east coastline.
HMAS Adelaide is sailing from Sydney on Saturday afternoon, and will be located offshore from the fire-affected areas by Sunday. The Adelaide is fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid and is able to operate helicopters, 400 crew (including medical staff) as well as 300 tonnes of emergency relief supplies.
Following Saturday’s meeting of the National Security Committee, the Prime Minister also announced that the government is leasing extra water bombing planes for the states and territories to deploy.
This follows a request from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council on Friday evening for additional water bombing aircraft. The government has committed $20 million to lease four extra planes which are expected to be ready to deploy within a week.
Here in Victoria approximately 350 members of the Australian Army’s 4th Brigade are already assisting emergency service agencies in responding to fire-affected areas.
Additional CH-47F Chinook helicopters are assisting with the current efforts supporting the firefighters and providing humanitarian assistance.
LARC-V amphibious watercraft have been assisting the isolated community of Mallacoota by transporting fuel deliveries to local petrol stations.
Photo (above): Corporal Nicole Dorrett © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence