The government will request the Governor-General revoke the current compulsory call out of the Australian Defence Force Reserves with effect from 7 February 2020.
CAPTION: Australian Army Reserves Sapper Luke Willsmore from the 5th Engineer Regiment cuts a smouldering tree in an effort to prevent ongoing fires in the Jerangle region, NSW. Photo by Lance Corporal Brodie Cross.
RELATED STORIES: Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20
EDITOR’S NOTE: Any Reservist who volunteers to continue working on Op Bushfire Assist after 7 February should carefully check how their conditions of service will be affected. For example, you may be forced to use annual leave entitlements in your civilian employment to cover your absence, and your employment tenure may not be as strongly protected by legislation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that as the immediate, wide-scale emergency threat had eased, Australian Defence Force support was moving from assisting to save life and property, to relief and recovery operations.
“The ADF will continue to provide support where it’s needed most, for as long as it’s needed, with its full-time forces and volunteer Reserve personnel,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s now time to allow ADF Reserve personnel who were part of the compulsory call out to return to their jobs, families, communities and personal commitments, if they wish.
“Before any draw-down of the compulsory call out commences, conditions will need to be met, which includes ensuring there is no immediate threat to life, and that basic, essential services have been restored.
“The Australian Defence Force will continue to provide extensive support to the bushfire recovery, and dedicated elements of the full-time force will stand ready should an emergency response be required again this bushfire season.”
Almost 6500 full-time and Reserve personnel have been providing direct support in the field, at sea, in the air, and from Defence bases as part of Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Reservists would continue to serve under Operation Bushfire Assist, on a voluntary ‘call-for’ basis.
“I am so proud of the service our ADF Reserve members have provided as part of this response,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I also acknowledge and thank their families and employers for their understanding and terrific support that has made this response possible.
“I thank our international partners who have stood in solidarity with Australia in our time of need, and supported our ADF response in bushfire-affected communities.”
Detailed planning to recalibrate ADF support to the bushfire recovery is ongoing, in consultation with local and state emergency services and local communities.
Defence and other Commonwealth agencies will continue to work closely with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.