Small acts of kindness by ADF personnel at international airports are enough to bring stressed Australians returning home to tears.
While internal border restrictions are starting to lift, the quarantine restrictions for international arrivals remain.
For the past month, more than 200 Army, Navy and Air Force personnel have rotated through Joint Task Group 629.1 supporting NSW Police at Sydney Airport and at least five quarantine hotels.
Able Seaman Britney Beech is normally a Maritime Logistics Support Operator in HMAS Parramatta.
She said she joined Operation COVID-19 Assist a few weeks ago.
“I was very excited to come to the Joint Task Group – I volunteered and wanted to do something different,” Able Seaman Beech said.
“I love being able to help all the people who arrive and make their return to Australia a little easier.”
Able Seaman Corporal Jofiliti Vuli, from No. 34 Squadron in Canberra, also recently joined the task group.
Like Able Seaman Beech, Corporal Vuli said he was motivated to volunteer to work on Operation COVID-19 Assist so he could help the civilians returning home.
He said one particular incident stood out.
“An Australian family, including two young boys, had arrived from Dubai and I offered to take their mother’s trolley,” Corporal Vuli said.
“She accepted my help and as soon as I took the trolley, she broke down in tears.”
The family had apparently been trying to return to Australia for about seven months.
Lieutenant Colonel David Charlton heads up Defence’s quarantine support in Sydney.
He said it was clear that personnel were making a big difference.
“I’m proud of our soldiers, sailors and aircraft men and women who are making an important contribution in keeping Australia safe and supporting the whole-of-government response to the pandemic,” Lieutenant Colonel Charlton said.
“It is particularly pleasing seeing the professionalism of our personnel on display and the way the public continues to respond to their care and assistance.”