Information For Families

Information in relation to the call out order and Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-2020, and what support is available to you as a family of a Reservist, can be found in the sections below.

Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-2020

At the request of the Government, in order to support national disaster relief efforts, the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), issued a Call Out Order: Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 2019-2020.

The Call Out was issued by the Governor-General on advice of the Minister for Defence in accordance with the civil emergency and disaster relief circumstances set out in s.28 of the Defence Act 1903 (Cth). You can read a copy of the 'Order to call out the Australian Defence Force Reserves' here.

On subsequent advice from the Government, the Governor-General (on 26 January 2020) revoked the compulsory call out of the ADF Reserves with effect 7 February 2020.

State and Territory governments remain the primary responders for disasters within Australia – the call out of Reservists was to enhance the ADF capacity to respond to multiple or sequential large-scale requests for support.

The call out focused on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 17th Brigades who formed the basis of three Joint Task Forces.

Reservists involved in the Reserve call out form part of a Joint Task Force in their respective state and provide assistance according to their skill set. As they are not ADF trained firefighters; this does not include firefighting duties.

Defence Service rendered under a call out order is protected under the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001, and employers must release their employees from their civilian employment to undertake this service without being compelled to use any type of paid or unpaid leave during the period of service.

Defence is ensuring that the hundreds of Reservists around Australia who are employed by emergency response agencies or volunteer organisations are exempt from the call out.

What support is available for me and my family?

The Defence Community Organisation (DCO) is providing information, support and links to resources to help Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST affected members of the ADF Community via https://www.defence.gov.au/DCO/emergency.asp

ADF members, including Reservists called out in support of Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST and their families, can contact the DCO Defence Family Helpline at anytime to receive information, referral and support.

For support or advice at any time, day or night, contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 or email: defencefamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au

The Helpline operates 24-7 and is staffed by qualified human services professionals, including social workers and psychologists, who can provide assessment, assistance or referral.

Family FAQs

Q: What assistance is available for my children who are returning to school?

A: The Defence Community Organisation (DCO) recognises the issues caused by disruptions during the back-to-school period and can provide advice and support through their Education Liaison Officers and the Defence Transition Mentor network.

For support or advice at any time, day or night, contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 or email: defencefamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au

The Helpline operates 24-7 and is staffed by qualified human services professionals, including social workers and psychologists, who can provide assessment, assistance or referral.

Q: What is a Defence call out?  

A: Section 28 of the Defence Act 1903 permits the Governor-General to call out Reserves for continuous full-time service.

A call out order may be made under this section of the Act in circumstances (whether within or outside Australia) involving one or more of the following:

(a)  war or warlike operations;

(b)  a time of defence emergency;

(c)  defence preparation;

(d)  peacekeeping or peace enforcement;

(e)  assistance to Commonwealth, State, Territory or foreign government authorities and agencies in matters involving Australia’s national security or affecting Australian defence interests;

(f)  support to community activities of national or international significance; and

(g)  civil aid, humanitarian assistance, medical or civil emergency or disaster relief.

Q: Has the call out been revoked?       

A: Yes. On advice from the Government, the Governor-General revoked the compulsory call out of the ADF Reserves with effect 7 February 2020. This was announced on 26 January 2020.

Q: What does revocation of the call out mean?        

A: The revocation of the call out means ADF Reserve personnel who were part of the compulsory call out may be able to return to their jobs, families, communities and personal commitments if they wish.

The ADF will continue to directly support bushfire affected communities with its full-time forces and volunteer Reserves, including some Reservists who were previously subject to the call out. Their skill set may continue to be required to support Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST.

Q: How were the Reservists selected for the call out?      

A: The majority of Reservists who have been called out to form the three Joint Task Forces or JTFs, are predominantly Service Category (SERCAT) 5 members of Reserves meaning they provide contribution and capability for a specified term and pattern of service. These Reservists will mainly be from the Australian Army’s 4th Brigade (4 BDE), 5th Brigade (5 BDE) and 9th Brigade (9BDE) and key specialists from the broader ADF Community. 4th Brigade is based in Victoria with depots in Melbourne and regional locations such as Ballarat. 5th Brigade is from New South Wales and ACT, with its headquarters in Holsworthy in Western Sydney and has soldiers that come from as far north as Tweed Heads to Wagga Wagga in the south. 9th Brigade has its headquarters in Keswick in Adelaide with units in metropolitan and rural South Australia and Tasmania.

Q: Where can I find more information that might help or be relevant?

A: Please see call out Information for Reservists (including FAQs in that section) under Important Links near the top right of this page.

Q: How do I support my family member to return to normal life after Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST?

A: Reservists will have access to ADF care and support if required.

Reserve members called out for Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST under SERVOP C arrangements will be supported by our ADF Transition team as they go back to civilian life at the end of their contract.

You can access a number of support services offered under the Defence Force Transition Program and engage with an ADF Transition Coach at your demounting camp.

For details, contact your local ADF Transition Centre or see the ADF Member and Family Transition Guide.

 

Last update: Friday, 7 February 2020

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