Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner has praised the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) swift response to the state’s bushfire emergency.

Speaking on February 14, Commissioner Andrew Crisp said Defence brought an impressive scale of forces to support the response, relief and recovery efforts, which meant results could be delivered quicker to affected communities.

“From planes to helicopters, from ships to plant and equipment, the sheer numbers of personnel and their assets which the ADF could get out on the ground on any one day was fantastic,” he said.

Commissioner Crisp also noted the community response to ADF participation in recovery efforts.

“ADF involvement brings a sense of confidence to the community,” he said. “People see the uniforms and feel safe.

“That is an intangible benefit, and it had an equally, if not a greater, impact on the relief and recovery efforts.”

A key factor that enabled close coordination between Victoria’s emergency services and the ADF support was the close working relationship established between ADF liaison officers and the various services working in Emergency Management Victoria’s State Control Centre (SCC) in Melbourne.

Colonel Michelle Campbell, the Senior ADF liaison officer at the SCC, said the rapid and agile Defence response had its foundations in the lessons learnt from Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday fires.

“Previously, the state level ADF liaison was with each agency individually and that took a lot of time,” Colonel Campbell said.

“Now, by being embedded at the SCC, we could liaise directly with all the agency representatives to support the effects they were trying to achieve and it sped everything up.”

Commissioner Crisp said the presence of the liaison officers helped emergency services staff understand what resources Defence had available and how their people and assets could be employed.

“Working with ADF liaison officers has been terrific,” Commissioner Crisp said.

“Professionally and personally, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with them.”