Among the rolling green hills of the La Trobe Valley, Victoria, police and camouflage uniforms could be seen side-by-side during a counter-terrorism exercise.

Exercise Austral Shield ran from October 17-20 at the Loy Yang Power Station and tested the command and control response to terrorist threats involving critical infrastructure after an ADF call-out.

Detective Inspector Matthew Anderson, from the Victoria Police Counter-Terrorism Command, said they regularly trained for such events and the chance to work with the ADF was an invaluable chance to exchange knowledge.   

“This exercise formed apart of Victoria Police’s regular testing and response to a domestic threat or counter-terrorism,” Detective Inspector Anderson said.

“It focused on how police and Defence work together on a range of tasks when responding to this kind of threat, such as vehicle intercepts, roadblocks, searches and more.

“Furthermore, it allowed us to examine areas where we might have difficultly, whether legally or more practically, so any gaps in our interoperability can be identified and resolved.”

Victoria Police Officer Acting Sergeant Cal Heaney works alongside soldiers at a vehicle check point during Exercise Austral Shield 2019. Photo: Jessica de Rouw

When addressing a platoon of soldiers participating in the exercise, the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said the decision to involve an Army Reserve unit was very deliberate for the exercise.  

“This is a very conscious choice to get 2nd Division and 4th Brigade in particular involved in this exercise; my view is that local people bring local solutions better than anyone else and that is exactly what you do,” Lieutenant General Burr said.

“Thanks upfront for your commitment to the exercise, what you do every day when you wear our uniform. You will learn a lot from these people, who are in our community everyday doing some tough things to make our community safe.

“We will learn a lot together on this.”

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam mirrored the Chief of Army’s sentiment.

“If it comes to a circumstance where we actually do have to exercise those powers, we can do it well,” Deputy Commissioner Steendam said.