The Australian Defence Force published an unusual and telling story on its official news web site today, praising an external photographer – ignoring their own.
What’s unusual about it is that it seems to indicate a Defence failure to tell its own story of Operation COVID-19 Assist – explaining that a single Australian War Memorial photographer was despatched to the field to ‘ensure that the good work Defence was doing in the community was highlighted and recorded’.
Despite all the bad things CONTACT has said about Defence’s Op COVID-19 Assist information vacuum, we freely admit the above statement is completely wrong – especially in respect of photography coverage.
CONTACT acknowledges that Defence photographers have produced literally thousands of very-high-quality photos from the very beginnings of Operation COVID-19 Assist – and from all over the country.
So we are bemused as to why the following story, published by Defence today, seems to suggest one man, in one state, in just seven days, six months after the start of the operation, can “highlight the importance of the war memorial’s work in documenting the events of today” – without mentioning or acknowledging the awesome work accomplished by dozens of ADF photographers over the entire duration.
Editor’s disclaimer – I am a personal friend of the photographer in the following story and I acknowledge his professionalism and talent as one of the best photographers I know.
My remarks above seek to highlight the absence of kudos, respect and acknowledgement for all the ADF photographers, from their own employer.
The story as published:
For the Operation COVID-19 Assist record
The support the ADF is providing on Operation COVID-19 Assist will now never be forgotten thanks to The Australian War Memorial (AWM).
CAPTION: Australian War Memorial commissioned photographer Gary Ramage photographs Lieutenant Jay Sumner with NSW Police Force Acting Sergeant David Adams. Photographer un-named, ironically. Story by Lieutenant Commander John Thompson.
AWM commissioned photographer and former Army photographer, Gary Ramage, has spent seven days taking photos and videos of ADF personnel on operation in NSW.
“Recording what’s happening is vital to understanding the important role the ADF plays in society,” Mr Ramage said.
“As time passes, we will start to forget much of what happened during Operation COVID-19 Assist and the support that Defence provided to governments across the country.
“My job is to ensure that doesn’t happen and that we will remember.”
The photographer started his military assignment at the biggest checkpoint on the NSW/Victoria border, Albury, before heading to the remote checkpoints in the Snowy Mountains.
“I was impressed by the range of experience on the checkpoints – from personnel yet to complete initial military training to Navy officers with 20 and 30 years’ experience,” he said.
The AWM photographer was provided access to the ADF’s support of NSW Police quarantine activities at Sydney Airport and hotels where personnel were assisting with the reception and repatriation of civilian travellers from overseas and Victoria.
He also captured imagery from Pier One Hotel where the ADF is providing security for personnel returning from overseas deployments.
The NSW Commander of Operation COVID-19 Assist, Brigadier Mick Garraway, said it was important to highlight the good work Defence was doing in the community.
“This is a unique operation involving all services as well as permanent and reservist personnel,” Brigadier Garraway said.
“The value we place on the few images taken during the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic highlights the importance of the war memorial’s work in documenting the events of today.”
The video and stills captured by Mr Ramage are expected to form part of future AWM national collection.
Thousands of ADF-photographer-produced photos from Operation COVID-19 Assist can be viewed and downloaded here.