Twenty-three ADF personnel arrived in Port Vila on March 15 to install radio and solar power systems on the remote islands of Epi, Ambae, Maewo and Loh as part of the Vanuatu Government’s National Emergency Radio Network.
CAPTION: Private Osama Ahmed, left, Lieutenant Amy Rowlings and Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing Constable Sione Motoutorua connect the antenna to the Epi Island’s Police Post radio mast. Story and photo by Corporal Olivia Cameron.
They have broken into small remote installation and training teams and are working with the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) in phase two of the project.
The project is a joint partnership between the Australian Government and the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu to reconstruct the Vanuatu government’s emergency radio communication network, which suffered severe damage during Tropical Cyclone Pam in May 2015, and was further damaged in Tropical Cyclone Harold in April this year.
The current contingent of ADF personnel is the second to be deployed in support of the three-year project that aims to ensure remote localities across the archipelago have access to communications in times of disaster.
Along with increasing Vanuatu’s disaster preparedness and response capability, the upgraded radio network will also enhance the VPF’s ability to coordinate daily policing tasks and provide service to their communities.
ADF contingent commander Captain Todd Wilson said the project provided valuable and tangible capability to the government of Vanuatu and strengthened the long-standing partnership between the nations.
“This is my fourth deployment to Vanuatu and it’s a pleasure to again witness the cooperation of and professionalism of our soldiers working alongside the VPF and the appreciation shown by the local regional communities receiving the capabilities,” Captain Wilson said.
Working in the remote installation team during phase one and again for phase two, Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing Constable Sione Motoutorua said learning how to operate the radio was a good experience.
“The installation contributes a lot here in Vanuatu, especially the remote areas,” Constable Motoutorua said.
“It’s the only opportunity to get communication with Port Vila and the community is so thankful.”
The ADF contingent will be in Vanuatu for two months.
The remainder of phase two is scheduled to commence later in the year.