Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has thanked Fiji for its offer of military support provided to Australia in response to the nation’s bushfire emergency.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Australia welcomes Fiji’s offer to provide an engineering platoon to assist in the bushfire fighting and recovery efforts.
"Fiji’s offer of assistance exemplifies the strength of our ties with Pacific neighbours. This offer of friendship in a time of need is deeply appreciated and continues to demonstrate how Australia and Fiji are family," Minister Reynolds said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said Fiji’s offer to provide its own military personnel to support Australia is a valued reminder of the strength of the bonds between the two countries.
"We are very grateful to have them by our side right now. We know we can rely on Fiji," Senator Payne said.
Fiji’s Minister for National Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs, Inia Seruiratu, said, "Australia and Fiji have a long history of co-operation and support in times of natural disasters. Fiji stands in solidarity with the people of Australia and is proud to offer military assistance.
"In Fiji we have a word – Vuvale, which means ‘family’ or ‘my home is your home’. Australia and Fiji are family in every respect and we will support Australia at this difficult time."
Australian and Fijian militaries regularly exercise and train together. This military assistance embodies the principles of the Vuvale Partnership.
ADF personnel have been working with state and territory authorities since September 2019 to respond to Australia’s bushfire crisis. This support will continue for as long as needed.
More than 5,000 full-time and reserve personnel are providing direct support in the field, at sea, in the air and from Defence bases across fire-affected regions.
More than 2,700 reservists are supporting Operation Bushfire Assist.
Defence has established three Joint Task Forces:
- Victoria: JTF 646 is based on Army’s 4th Brigade, with support elements from across the ADF. RAAF Base East Sale is the central hub for the Defence response in southern areas.
- NSW and the ACT: JTF 1110 is based on Army’s 5th Brigade, with support elements from across the ADF. Holsworthy Barracks is the central hub for the Defence response across NSW and the ACT.
- South Australia and Tasmania: JTF 1111 is based on Army’s 9th Brigade, with support elements from across the ADF. Keswick Barracks is the central hub for the Defence response across South Australia and Tasmania.
The Chief of the Defence Force appointed Major General Justin 'Jake' Ellwood as the Emergency ADF National Support Coordinator working in support of state and territory authorities.
Defence is also providing support to emergency services personnel in Western Australia to support firefighting efforts.
The ADF is providing support for the essential task of livestock and wildlife disposal in affected areas. This is at the request of state authorities and where the ADF’s unique capabilities are best suited.