The Commander of the Australian Defence Force’s COVID-19 Task Force, Lieutenant General John Frewen, visited personnel in South Australia.
Lieutenant General Frewen was hosted on the South Australia-Victoria border on October 2 by Comander Joint Task Group 629.4 Colonel Graham Goodwin.
With the COVID-19 Task Force in operation for more than 200 days, JTG629.4 was one of the first to be established.
Lieutenant General Frewen said the visit provided a valuable insight into how personnel collaborated with the state’s civilian authorities and contributed to the wider ADF effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“It provides real insight and understanding of the issues impacting the ADF. You get so much out of engaging and talking to the troops," Lieutenant General Frewen said.
Staff provided a brief on the South Australian area of operations at headquarters.
The brief was followed by a visit to an Adelaide hotel where ADF personnel are supporting the South Australian Government’s quarantine compliance measures.
While at the hotel, the Commander of the State Control Centre-Health, Paul McGowen, and ADF Liaison Officer Squadron Leader Chris McBurnie provided insights into the collaboration for planning and operations.
Lieutenant General Frewen also flew to Mount Gambier in the state’s south-east to visit personnel supporting South Australian Police at a local border control point.
The task group has been providing invaluable assistance to SA Police in the management of cross-border travel at control points along more than 400km of the South Australian and Victorian state border. The border joint task unit comprises about 100 Defence personnel from each of the services, including regular and reserve members.
From Renmark to Mount Gambier, the unit is assisting by checking vehicles at the check points and helping in the processing of essential travellers into South Australia. Integration with the roving patrols has allowed the ADF members to test their adaptability to operate in new ways and to share tactics, techniques and procedures across both organisations.
Colonel Goodwin said he admired the professionalism and enthusiasm of his task group members.
"This positive impact has also been echoed by the South Australian Government and the Commissioner of the Police, who continually thank the ADF for its support,” Colonel Goodwin said.
Lieutenant General Frewen acknowledged the commitment of personnel working away from their loved ones, some of whom have been on back-to-back operations since Operation Bushfire Assist.
"You have all been exemplars in your management, discipline and leadership," Lieutenant General Frewen said.
Lieutenant General Frewen and Colonel Goodwin met SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens to discuss the successful collaboration between the two organisations.
Commissioner Stevens thanked them for the support, which, he said, had provided valuable learnings for both organisations.
"Following Bushfire Assist and into COVID-19 response, our close working relationship has been useful to understand the capabilities available within each organisation. I have been impressed across all fronts from what I have seen and heard," Commissioner Stevens said.