The weather is always a popular topic of conversation and was the only topic at a recent workshop.

The Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) hosted the workshop on December 8 for the Joint Task Group 629.1 at Holsworthy Army Base in Sydney.

ACMC director of domestic and international engagement Rachel Walshe said the two-day event aimed to build Defence capability, understanding and preparedness to support civil authorities in the event of catastrophic weather events.

“This workshop is important because we have people in the room who’ve now had significant experience working in a domestic environment,” Mrs Walshe said.

“This is an opportunity to share some of that knowledge.”

Commander of Joint Task Group 629.1 Brigadier Mick Garraway said it was important for Defence to be ready for any eventuality.

“Our people have made a huge contribution to the safety and wellbeing of Australians since January, supporting government efforts during the bushfires and continuing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brigadier Mick Garraway said.

“We’re still supporting the NSW Government’s COVID-19 quarantine efforts at Sydney Airport and several Sydney hotels, but now we’re also looking at how best to support and coordinate our capabilities in the high-risk weather season expected to bring heavy rains across much of the country.”

Among those attending the ACMC workshop was the Commander of the Amphibious Task Group (ATG), Navy’s Captain Leif Maxfield.

“The ATG maintains a high level of preparedness so we can deploy at a moment’s notice,” Captain Maxfield said.

“But this workshop helps build understanding and relationships so that we can work more effectively and seamlessly if there is a domestic weather crisis and we are called to provide support.”

The ACMC session was facilitated by the military adviser to the ACMC, Captain Jim Hutton, the first naval officer to hold the military adviser role.

“Our mantra is ‘as civilian as possible, as military as necessary’,” Captain Hutton said.

“We worked through a series of worst-case weather event scenarios to identify the issues to be addressed, those who need to be involved and the necessary links into civil society through lead organisations like Emergency Management Australia.

"We also look at how we can best ensure we provide the most appropriate and approved support.”

Deputy Commander of Joint Task Group 629.1 Colonel Warwick Young said a wealth of knowledge and experience had been built up over the past 12 months.

“We have learnt a huge amount working with government agencies such as police, health and the Rural Fire Service,” Colonel Young said. 

“We are now making sure that we are as ready and prepared as possible for when our assistance is called upon.”