Once again in 2020, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is increasing its support around the nation in a time of need.

With the COVID-19 spike in Victoria, and subsequent requests for assistance, about 1500 members are deployed on tasks around Australia.

The commander of Defence's COVID-19 Taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, said the ADF is ready to provide additional support as required.

"I’m proud of our efforts so far supporting public health testing in Victoria. In the last fortnight alone, Defence has contributed to nearly 50,000 tests at testing clinics across Melbourne – a tangible demonstration of the effect we can have in the pandemic response," Lieutenant General Frewen said.

"As a result of several requests for additional assistance, more ADF personnel are being deployed in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, as well as extending their support in Queensland. The need is immediate and we have responded quickly.

"It is a remarkable time to be seeing so many Navy, Army and Air Force personnel out supporting our communities. Although ADF personnel are not authorised as law enforcement officers, they will be working closely with local police – especially in the control of state borders. I’m confident every member will be respectful and professional in their interactions with our partner agencies and local communities."

Major Patrick Trainor (second from right) conduct strategic planning during Operation COVID-19 Assist at South Australia Police Headquarters, Adelaide. Photo: Leading Aircraftwoman Jacqueline Forrester

Lieutenant General Frewen also thanked want to thank Defence families for their constant support, patience and understanding.

"We know that the rapidly changing situation in Victoria has shown the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to challenge Defence and the nation. While unwelcome, these setbacks are not surprising. We must be prepared for the possibility of clusters appearing in other parts of the nation, which may require us to respond individually or as an enterprise," Lieutenant General Frewen said. 

"In this period of rapid change, it is important for every ADF member and Defence civilian to remember the basics: wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing and follow the latest preventative advice. 

We will continue to be exemplars of following COVIDSafe measures. Operation COVID-19 Assist is Defence’s main effort. Our people are trained, equipped and ready to contribute with partner agencies in this truly national effort."