Commander of Defence's COVID-19 Task Force Lieutenant General John Frewen and Surgeon General ADF Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey paid a visit to the members of Task Force 629.3 in Brisbane on November 6. 

Lieutenant General John Frewen said the visit was to review operations and speak with personnel. 

“I am impressed with what I’m seeing and hearing today, what you have been doing is spot on; it is paving the way for Australia to open up and operate again”, Lieutenant General Frewen said.

During his visit, the commander also observed the quarantine arrangements for personnel who have returned from supporting Defence’s efforts as part of the government’s response in NSW and Victoria.

Nursing Officer from Joint Health Command Major Kylie Hasse said her team had been busy managing the health and quarantine requirements for the return of soldiers deployed internationally on operations and those from interstate deployments.

“This week we took in a large number of soldiers, including 160 personnel from the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, who had been deployed interstate as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist,” Major Hasse said.

“It has been a very busy period and we are working to ensure they return to their unit fit and healthy after their 14-day quarantine period.

“We undertake testing over the first two days and then again between days 10 and 12 and ensure their health and wellbeing by facilitating breaks for exercise each day and other initiatives to keep the soldiers fit, healthy and as happy as can be.”

Rear Admiral Sharkey thanked personnel for their efforts. 

“You have all continued to demonstrate that the Joint Health Command is adaptive, agile and offers unique skill sets, and seeing you today, doing what you are doing makes me proud to be wearing this uniform,” she said. 

“Rates of infection in the ADF are a quarter of that in the general public, we have fantastic people, systems and procedures and you should all be very proud.

“COVID has disrupted the battle rhythm of health services but we have adapted brilliantly.”

Lieutenant General Frewen said he was pleased with the way his task force had undertaken tasks, with multiple ADF units working together to great effect.

“The government is committed to opening up Australia. We have some six to 8000 vulnerable Australians who the government is making a priority to get home. This will mean more hotel quarantine operations like this,”  he said. 

“It is great to confirm again today that the Australian Defence force is able to support efforts to ensure the safe return of Australians back home.”

The ADF is being relied upon for its expert skills in the planning, logistics and execution of a number of initiatives to help keep Australians safe while helping to ensure Australia remains open for business. 

“The way in which Defence has stepped up and delivered, with both uniformed military personnel and Defence Public Service members working so closely together, and with such good effect, makes me confident we will continue to play a vital role in the whole-of-government response to the pandemic and to the same great effect,” Lieutenant General Frewen said. 

“Well done everyone.”