Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and PM Scott Morrison have announced that Defence has formally ceased Operation Bushfire Assist on 26 March 2020, having completed the emergency and recovery tasks requested by state and local authorities.
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Defence has been assisting with the bushfire efforts since early September 2019 by providing wide-ranging support as part of the national response.
The Prime Minister thanked all personnel who provided direct support in the field, at sea, in the air, and from Defence bases as part of Operation Bushfire Assist.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way Defence has been assisting the emergency services across the country in these challenging circumstances,” PM Morrison said.
“The permanent and part-time ADF members provided essential support to our emergency services across Australia. This remarkable hard work has made a significant difference to the immediate emergency response, and the longer-term recovery, which is now well under way.”
During Operation Bushfire Assist, Defence contributed to the response and recovery efforts through the delivery of the following support:
- Clearance of over 4,850 kilometres of roads;
- Clearance and repair of over 1,285 kilometres of fences;
- Clearance of over 240 kilometres of fire breaks;
- Production of nearly 10 million litres of drinking water for Kangaroo Island and Bega; and
- Provision of over 77,000 meals on Defence bases to emergency services personnel and evacuees.
Operation Bushfire Assist commenced on 31 December 2019 to support state fire and emergency services across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and later provided support to the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania.
At its peak, more than 6,500 ADF members provided support as part of emergency relief, response and recovery operations. This included around 3,000 Reserve forces.
Minister Reynolds said it marked the largest mobilisation of the ADF for domestic disaster relief in Australia’s history.
“I am so proud of the service our permanent and part-time ADF members provided as part of this response,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I am also very grateful for the support provided by the many additional international defence force partners from Canada, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and the United States. Their support demonstrates the strength of our relationships."