The ADF leaders commanding the COVID-19 Task Force visited the Queensland State Disaster Coordination Centre on November 5 to meet state emergency services' commissioners and to commit to further support.

Commander of the task force, Lieutenant General John Frewen, was accompanied by Surgeon General of the ADF Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey at the meeting with the commissioners of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Police Service, as well as senior public servants.

This was the first time the ADF leaders had met with the Queensland Government officials since the pandemic began.

Lieutenant General Frewen said he was keen to understand how the task force could continue to provide assistance to Defence’s partner agencies.

During their meeting, Queensland police expressed gratitude for the initial and rapid deployment of the ADF to help police on a range of tasks around the state.

The ADF prioritised supporting the Queensland Government’s hotel quarantine efforts at four airports and 18 hotels. 

Similarly, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has enjoyed a close relationship with Defence, including during a recent call-out activity, Operation Civil Assist 20, where about 40 reservists, who were embedded with QFES, conducted fire trail reconnaissance in preparation for the high-risk weather season.

Lieutenant General Frewen reinforced the ADF’s commitment to assisting its partner agencies in Queensland and throughout Australia.

“The working relationship with our Queensland agencies is very strong,” he said.

“It is humbling to hear how well Task Force 629.3 has performed to support our peers in the way they have, and that the unique skillsets of our members and specialist equipment is still needed.

“We value our partnerships and I know that we, too, have learned a great deal from our partner teams, and that by continuing to work together in the way in which we have, we are protecting Australians every day and helping the country to thrive in difficult circumstances.”

Lieutenant General Frewen also gave an update on some of the current tasks the Federal Government and the Defence COVID-19 task force are prioritising, in conjunction with the states and territories.

“We are making plans to support the return of almost 8000 vulnerable Australians, bringing back international students, planning for the high-risk weather seasons, and planning for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine for Australians,” he said.