Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia will play a leading role in assisting the PNG government, with three Army CH-47F Chinook helicopters to deploy to PNG this week with additional ADF personnel and supplies to support the relief effort. This contribution adds to an existing presence of 80 ADF and 75 AFP personnel in PNG.
A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules with a crew of 10 personnel has made nine flights to affected areas, delivering up to $200,000 worth of Australian humanitarian supplies, including tarpaulins, bed mats and water containers. The C-130J has also transported PNG government medical items as well as supplies from the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation, the UN Population Fund and CARE.
Australia has deployed two logistics specialists to assist with the distribution of supplies, and the ADF will continue to assist with distribution efforts.
The ADF has also conducted a comprehensive damage assessment of the Highlands Highway on behalf of PNG authorities.
Around 140,000 people live in the remote areas of the Highlands region that were most impacted by the earthquake. Continuing aftershocks have caused further damage in these areas, including a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on 5 March and a 6.7 magnitude earthquake on 7 March.
"Australia will provide up to $1 million to support vulnerable women and children in the earthquake-affected areas, in partnership with UN Women and UNICEF," Minister Payne said.
"This will bring Australia’s total humanitarian commitment to PNG’s earthquake response to $1.2 million. Australia’s development assistance to PNG this year will total an estimated $546.3 million."
The minister also confirmed Australia is standing ready to provide further assistance if needed.