As the Defence COVID-19 taskforce marks nearly six weeks of operation, its commander has praised the response of the Australian Defence Force.
CAPTION: Leading Seaman Toby Pink from Naval Engineering Systems Centre in HMAS Stirling assists Western Australian Police Officer Constable Hanna Laundry from Rockingham Police Station to conduct a traffic stop on the Forest Highway in Lake Clifton as part of the ADF’s support to the Western Australian governent during COVID-19. Photo by Leading Seaman Ronnie Baltoft.
Task Force commander Lieutenant General John Frewen said that from far north Queensland to Tasmania, and from ports on the east coast to roads in Western Australia, the Australian Defence Force had been helping Australians in a time of need.
“You should be proud of your efforts so far during this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.
“And you have achieved this immediately after the high-tempo period of Operation Bushfire Assist.
“It means that many ADF personnel have been working since Christmas to respond to crises that they do not normally respond to.
“But you have responded.
“You have responded with speed, agility and professionalism in the finest traditions of your service.”
Lieutenant General Frewen assured the ADF and Defence Australian Public Service members taking part in the whole-of-government response that feedback from the Defence Minister and state and territory leaders had been consistently positive.
“Most importantly, many members have been thanked by Australians on the street and out in public as they performed their duties,” he said.
“We do not seek this gratitude but it is welcome nonetheless.
“Everything we do is about supporting Australians in a time of need, and contributing to the wider health and economic measures that are necessary to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Recently, the ADF has began assistance the health response in northern Tasmania, as well as face shield production in South Australia.
“This is, again, proof positive that our people, our attitudes and capabilities can be used in a variety of environments and tasks,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.
“And, although we are not authorised as law-enforcement officers, we continue to support law-enforcement agencies as they ensure quarantine compliance.
“As we move forward, I note the encouraging signs that decisive interventions by the Australian government appear to be having an effect in flattening the curve.
“But we cannot assume the COVID-19 response is over.”
Lieutenant General Frewen urged soldiers, sailors and airmen and women to keep doing their part, whether on the frontline of Operation COVID-19 Assist, in support of Defence’s wider mission or as part of the Defence community.
“We are all accountable for our own actions in stopping the spread,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.
“You will continue to be exemplars of the health response.
“Be disciplined in your actions and your behaviour as Defence members.
“You have my confidence and trust that you will do your jobs with the pride, professionalism and good humour that you are known for.”