If 2020 has taught us anything it’s how rapidly circumstances can change.

In early June we had 1079 people deployed nationally. By mid-July that had increased to 2188, as the situation in Victoria deteriorated.

Today we have almost 3400 personnel deployed around the country supporting Operation COVID-19 Assist.        

It is now clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to challenge Defence and the nation well into 2021.

While unwelcome, the fact is outbreaks are likely to continue to appear, restrictions will be in place for some time and will continue to evolve.

We have had Australian Defence Force (ADF) members deployed across Australia since the bushfires erupted towards the end of 2019.

With the high-risk weather season not far away and the continuation of Operation COVID-19 Assist, we are preparing for another summer of high operational tempo.

I want to thank our personnel for their flexibility and dedication so far. Some of you have answered the call several times to support the COVID-19 response.

More than 1700 personnel are now deployed in Victoria and some of our people are doing roles that they would have never envisioned when they enlisted.

ADF nurses have assisted residents in aged care facilities, while others have administered COVID-19 tests at roadside clinics.

Personnel are training to drive ambulances, conducting compliance checks across Melbourne’s suburbs, and supporting the contact tracing effort.

Our focus is not only ensuring Defence is ready to provide support when and where it is required, but also that the welfare of our Defence personnel, and the wider Defence community is held in the highest regard.

Defence has been inundated with messages of thanks. I would like to take the opportunity to thank our community for your ongoing support to our troops, it is invaluable during these unprecedented times.

As always, and especially as we approach the high-risk weather season, Defence remains vigilant, ready to respond and assist the government when required.