Since the beginning of the bushfire crisis, Victoria’s State Control Centre (SCC) has played a pivotal role in coordinating the multi-agency response to assist affected local communities.

Sergeant Ryan Hodgson, from the 4th Combat Service Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, is normally based at Maygar Barracks in Broadmeadows but during Operation Bushfire Assist, he worked tirelessly out of the SCC in an aviation control role with the Combined Agency Operations Group (CAOG).

“I’ve helped assist 479 air missions across the different contributing nations, with different aircraft from Navy, Army and Air Force - both rotary and fixed wing,” Sergeant Hodgson said.

He said he was very proud of the mission.

“As of this afternoon, there are no known starving cattle on isolated farms anywhere in Victoria,” he said.

“The ADF and the various agencies in the SCC work really well together. We have all shared a common purpose and that has been on display by the way we have developed a really positive and strong working relationship.

“It was a tough situation, but with the combined agency efforts we achieved a good result. Well done to the wider team.”

His role included coordinating with a host of aviation assets that included the ADF, Victorian Police, the Country Fire Authority and the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

In recognition of his efforts, senior ADF personnel and state agency representatives gathered in the SCC on his last day on February 4 to bid him farewell.

Chris Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Management Victoria, expressed his thanks on behalf of everyone.

“Ryan worked extremely well in the SCC and with the CAOG team, delivering significant effects in aviation control. From the beginning, he worked seamlessly with all the agencies and our deployed elements,” Mr Stephenson said.  

Also working in the SCC as the senior Defence liaison officer was Colonel Michelle Campbell, from Headquarters 2nd Division, Australian Army. She commended Sergeant Hodgson’s sustained efforts.

“He worked really well integrating the aviation assets from multiple sources and demonstrated more broadly the value of a combined agencies approach,” Colonel Campbell said.

Colonel Campbell, who works full-time as an executive-director in the Victorian Government’s Department of Treasury and Finance, said the ADF’s involvement was enhanced by “having a clear mission and clear outcomes provided by the State, which allowed us to support our partner agencies”.