Victoria – Joint Task Force 646
Following a request from Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, on December 31, naval vessels, helicopter and fixed wing military aircraft were made ready for use in evacuations. This was decided in consultation with the Prime Minister and Defence Chief General Angus Campbell.
HMAS Choules transported approximately 1100 evacuees from Mallacoota to Western Port on January 4-5. The ship then returned to Mallacoota to deliver diesel fuel and a fuel management team to keep generators running. RAAF Black Hawk and Taipan helicopters transported firefighters to fire grounds, and helped evacuate vulnerable people. Three Spartan aircraft assisted with evacuations.
On January 5 and 6 ADF flew in emergency food, fuel, water and medical supplies to 18 cut-off communities. On January 7 they prepared a staging area for around 100 international fire fighters around Omeo.
On January 7, further evacuations from Mallacoota took place, and satellite phones and food, medical supplies, water and fuel were delivered in some isolated locations, including Bemm River and Genoa.
Reconnaissance flights were conducted over fire affected areas on January 8. A medical team was deployed to remote towns such as Combienbar and Gipsy Point.
5400 litres of diesel and 800 litres of unleaded petrol were flown in to Mallacoota.
Equipment and Engineering personnel were provided to assist state government in reopening roads, removing debris and clearing fire breaks and fire trails. On January 9, ADF undertook route clearance north of Bairnsdale and the Great Alpine Road was reopened. Hay bales and fodder were moved into key locations. Air Force air traffic controllers assisted to help manage the large volume of air traffic at the Bairnsdale Airport.
From January 10, ADF undertook continued work in support of relief centres at Omeo, Swifts Creek, Bairnsdale, Orbost and Mallacoota. ADF also supported evacuations from the Victorian Alpine region.
Undertake internet research:
- Make a list of the different issues affecting the people of Mallacoota prior to the ADF assisting them?
- Make a list of the different tasks undertaken by The Australian Defence Force to assist the people of Mallacoota?
- Why do you think that The Australian Defence Force had to be called in to assist the people of Mallacoota? Was this a good decision? What are the costs and benefits of using the ADF in this way?
- What challenges did the ADF face in assisting the people of Mallacoota?
- Outline the effectiveness of The Australian Defence Force in responding to the bushfire crisis affecting Mallacootta.
Embedded below are social media posts from The Guardian, The Australian Defence Force, the Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Airforce.
- What is the purpose of The Australian Defence Force, Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Airforce posting updates about their activities? What are the benefits of these posts?
- Consider the following statement about media: "Media and media messages can influence beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviours and the democratic process." What messages are conveyed in the posts below? What values are communicated? How might these posts influence democratic processes?
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Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.