Army digs in on NSW bushfire frontline
Thousands of Diggers will descend on bushfire-ravaged towns on Monday with engineers, medics and animal vets among the 3000-strong contingent sent by Scott Morrison.
Chinooks finished flying evacuees from Mallacoota on the NSW-Victorian border on Sunday, with the focus now turning to the mammoth recovery effort.
The reserve force was mobilised within 24 hours with personnel arriving at bases around the state on Sunday night to be sent on deployment Monday.
Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the ADF had already processed reservists following the call-up of 3000 members on Saturday.
"Most of them had already appeared (to volunteer before the call-up) and then we're retrospectively going through the administration process," he said.
"One of the things I'd say is when it comes to supporting your fellow Australians, I don't have any trouble getting volunteers to come and meet their Reserve obligations, and I'm finding that across the board."
The unprecedented planned deployment of 3000 reservists to assist with the bushfire effort is the first time such a call-up has occurred in Australia.
Lt-Gen Bilton said the reservists covered a wide range of professions invaluable to the fire response.
"I've got everything from engineers, to specialists logisticians to medics, to doctors, to vets - we have a number of vets that have made themselves available based on some of the challenges with wildlife and family pets," he said.
"It's the full gambit and one of the beauties of the Reserves is we're able to draw on a whole range of skill sets that are just highly applicable in these particular circumstances."
Reservists and specialist personnel were on Sunday preparing to deploy from the Holsworthy Barracks in NSW.
They will head to Tamworth, Wollondilly, Nowra, Mudgee, Maitland and Wingecarribee as part of a transport and logistics effort. Troops will be sent to Mudgee to cut fire trails.
The HMAS Adelaide is due to arrive off the coast of Eden to commence relief and evacuation operations along the coast line.
The Adelaide is carrying 400 personnel and 300 tonnes of supplies.
An ADF plane will be used to transport 20 firefighters between Port Macquarie and Merimbula.
Meanwhile, former federal police chief Andrew Colvin will head up a critical operation to help bushfire affected communities recover over the next two years.
#OurPeople have departed to assist those affected by the #AustralianFires. @7th_RAR pers who left today will work with local authorities, volunteer agencies & #YourADF on the ground. Darwin pers will follow within 24hrs.— HQ 1 Bde (@HQ_1Bde) January 5, 2020
Stay safe & we hope the weather brings some relief soon. pic.twitter.com/6Pc6zzsIoW
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in Canberra on Sunday where he announced the immediate commencement of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to be lead by Mr Colvin.
The agency would work with states and Defence to co-ordinate recovery efforts ranging from income payments to rebuilding infrastructure and mental health support and would not seek funding from the states.
"I have no doubt (the states) will have a long list of recovery tasks that they will be performing … rebuilding bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure and we will work hand in glove," Mr Morrison said.