Personnel from Joint Task Group 629.2 have been providing vital support to Emergency Management Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colonel John Molnar, senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) representative within the State Control Centre, said personnel were providing customised support to the Victorian Government to strengthen and expand its capacity to deal with the impact of COVID-19. 

“The numbers of ADF personnel in support of these tasks ranged from an initial requirement of 30 members, reducing to about 15 as tasks have been completed,” Colonel Molnar said.

"We established a dedicated liaison network within DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services Victoria], headed by Royal Australian Navy medical officer Lieutenant Commander Anthony Carpenter, and quickly gained an understanding on where ADF assets could best be utilised.

“This has included direct liaison with the chief health officer, contact tracing team augmentation and planning advisory in the execution of compulsory quarantine compliance, which has been averaging a rolling total of 3000 people in hotel lockdown after returning from overseas."

Major James Eling, from Army’s 9 Regiment, worked with the strategic planning teams as part of the public health surveillance program and said it was enriching.

“Standing up the shopping centre testing blitz was a great opportunity to work in a high-performing team,” Major Eling said.

“It was a complicated process with a wide range of specialities required. The team came together very quickly and over-achieved their target of the number of tests required to be performed as part of the public health surveillance program.

“It was the highlight of my COVID-19 deployment.”