Australia has delivered the first of more than 30 planned virtual conferencing systems to our partner security agencies across the Pacific, beginning with Vanuatu and Fiji.
CAPTIONS: Aircraftman Joseph Freeman directs forklift driver Leading Aircraftman Christopher Wettenhall from No. 23 Squadron, during the physical loading of virtual conferencing systems onto a No. 36 Squadron C-17A Globemaster III bound for Fiji. Photo by Corporal Colin Dadd.
The systems will enable regional security leaders to participate in the virtual Joint Heads of Pacific Security (JHoPS) event in late 2020, as well as ongoing engagement, training and responses to regional situations including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the initiative demonstrated how Australia was working closely with its neighbours during the COVID-19 recovery phase to enable meaningful engagement.
“Defence has been closely engaged with our partners in the Southwest Pacific region throughout the COVID-19 response,” Minister Reynolds said.
“We are delivering these virtual conferencing systems to our Pacific-island partners to enable security leaders and agencies to remain connected, while we cannot physically be together.
“These simple and reliable virtual conferencing systems will support discussions on responding to the collective challenge of COVID-19, as well as collaborative approaches to other regional matters.”
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke said Australia continued to work closely with the Pacific community on our shared security interests, notwithstanding challenges including COVID-19.
“Australia is as committed as ever to supporting the security community across our Pacific family,” Minister Hawke said.
“The JHoPS is a great example of regional security leaders working together for peace and prosperity in the Pacific and this investment further enables that work.”
Microsoft Surface Hub virtual conferencing systems are being delivered over the coming months through a combination of Air Force, humanitarian corridor and existing commercial flights.
As well as Vanuatu and Fiji, the systems will also be delivered to Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Palau, Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Niue and Nauru.