Defence Communications visits Bushfire Zones

Public Affairs Officer Flight Lieutenant Nick O’Connor recently visited bushfire zones in Victoria, NSW and South Australia in a bid to capture imagery and stories of ADF Reservist who ‘answered the call’ to serve on OPERATION Bushfire Assist 2019-20.
 
ADF Reservists are working side by side with emergency services personnel and other State Agencies to provide best effect of ADF assets to help re-build communities devastated by fires.
 
“Much of the stories about the ADF’s efforts to help community recovery processes in the three States have rightfully already received a lot of media attention. However from an RYD perspective the story of the unwavering support civilian employers provided their ADF Reservist employees was an angle that hadn’t been covered to date,” FLTLT O’Connor said.
 
“So with the approval of RYD management and assistance from public affairs elements in the three JTFs FLTLT O’Connor visited three States and developed a suite of articles, social media posts and web clips which aimed to highlight how appreciative the ADF was of the support provided across Australia from civilian employers.”
 
FLTLT O’Connor’s first location visited was Bega Valley in NSW where he witnessed first-hand how Reservists were making a difference on the ground.
 
“The small town of Cobargo had been devastated by the fires.  It felt quite eerie driving around the town and seeing houses and businesses that had been raised to the ground by the bushfires,” he said.
 
“I will never forget the pungent smell of smoke which lingered in the air.
 
“It was heartening to chat to ADF Reservists and hear the scope and scale of work they were undertaking in Cobargo – from fixing rural property fences to helping clear roadways of debris – these members are making a difference;”
 
On the Australia Day long weekend, FLTLT O’Connor visited East Gippsland in Victoria and captured stories and images of Reservists in East Sale, Bairnsdale and Orbost.
 
“Again, the collective efforts of all ADF members was evident in these three locations.  I was amazed by the pivotal role that Reservists were playing to help not only re-instate vital community infrastructure, but co-ordinate and deliver services to ensure the well-being of community members was maintained,” he said.
 
On the weekend of 1 and 2 February, FLTLT O’Connor visited Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
 
“Kangaroo Island is truly amazing place – it has a unique rugged beauty which attracts thousands of tourists each year,” he said.
 
“I managed to catch up with two Military Police Reservists, who both worked in the Western Australian Police Service.  They both spoke of the seamless interoperability between the ADF, the Country Fire Authority and South Australian Police.
 
“I also captured some interesting stories from Reservist soldiers who were rolling up their sleeves to help local farmers reinstate fencing and remove materials destroyed by the fires.”

FLTLT O’Connor said there were some common themes in the discussions he had with Reservist members serving on the Operation.
 
“Each of them acknowledged that without the support from their civilian employers it would be difficult to undertake their ADF duties.  A number of them acknowledged that their civilian employers went above and beyond in their level of support not only in releasing them for Operation Bushfire Assist, but for all other Reservist commitments.
 
“The other common thread form my interviews was how valued the Reservists felt by the communities in which they were providing support.  I could tell that they felt appreciated and that the work they were undertaking was making a real difference.”
 
Further information on the support that RYD gives ADF Reservists and their employers can be found at https://www.defencereservessupport.gov.au/

Australian Army Nursing Officer Lieutenant Anna D’Ambrosi treating a patient in the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) on operation Bushfire Assist 2019-20 in Bega, NSW.

 

Burnt remains of a house at Cabargo, 40kms north of Bega, NSW during Operation Bushfire Support.

 

From left: CPL Glenn Wishart and SGT Bevan Roe, Military Police Reservists on Operation Bushfire Assist 2019-20 on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

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