Australian and Fijians side-by-side on flood cleanup

Australian and Fijian soldiers worked side-by-side in northern New South Wales to rebuild a community access road as part of Operation Flood Assist 2022.

CAPTION: Australian Army and Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel work together to rebuild an Upper Wilsons Creek access road damaged by floodwaters in northern New South Wales. Story by Captain Annie Richardson. Photo by Corporal Sagi Biderman.

Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel had intended to spend their three months in Australia this year on Exercise Coral Warrior, but the significant flooding and devastation has seen our Pacific neighbours volunteering their time to help Australian communities clean up.

The Fijians spent their first full day in Australia with 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment soldiers rebuilding an access road.

A significant landslide cut off access and flooded the main route in and out of the Upper Wilsons Creek community, 60km north of Lismore.

Platoon commander Lieutenant Brett Bennett from 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment said the Fijian soldiers were a welcome and easily integrated part of their task unit.

“The Fijian combat engineers have complementary skills and fit in easily,” Lieutenant Bennett said.

“Australians and Fijians are working side by side on the tools, and sharing the planning for the effort.”

Using local fallen trees and supplies from the community of volunteers, the team was successful in creating approximately 200 metres of road.

CAPTION: Australian and Fijians soldiers working side by side to rebuild the Upper Wilsons Creek access road in northern New South Wales. Photo by Corporal Sagi Biderman.

Between the Australian Defence Force, Republic of Fiji Military Forces and a group of dedicated local volunteers, the access road will enable the local community to regain access to Byron Bay via an efficiently and effectively constructed access route.

“The effort today really demonstrated the partnership of our two countries,” Lieutenant Bennett said.

“Time and time again, the Fijians have shown up for us in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, bushfires and floods.

“It’s great to know Fiji is here to assist us when we need them.”

The Republic of Fiji Miliary Forces personnel will continue to support Operation Flood Assist, working alongside ADF personnel reconstructing bridges, building roads and infrastructure, removing dangerous trees and generally assisting northern New South Wales clean up.

“Vinaka” to our vuvale from Fiji who continue to support Australia during times of need.





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