Tag: ADF

Cricket match brings Afghan interpreters and ADF veterans together to heal wounds

Afghan interpreters and Australian veterans who served on the front lines in Afghanistan have come together over a game of cricket in an effort to acknowledge and heal from their experiences during the decades-long war.

Key points:

  • The Brereton report renewed mental health concerns for Afghanistan veterans and Afghan interpreters
  • The two groups came together in Adelaide for a cricket match and dinner 
  • They hope it will become a regular fixture in various locations

They reunited in Adelaide over an Afghan meal on Saturday night, and a match at the Kilburn Football and Cricket Club yesterday.

Former Afghan Australian Defence Force (ADF) interpreter Abdul Ghafar Stanakzai was a driving force behind bringing the match to life.

He was working in Afghanistan until 2014 before he moved to Australia.

Mr Stanakzai said the idea was sparked from the findings of the Brereton report, released in November last year.

Abdul Ghafar Stanakzai at the dinner for Afghan interpreters and veterans in Adelaide.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

The four-year inquiry revealed war crimes allegedly committed by Australian special forces, including the murder of 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians

"The job was equal, the task was equal, the risk was equal and so they know each other, and they served alongside each now and now they are struggling after the Brereton report — everyone is mentally hurt," Mr Stanakzai said.

"That is a dark spot on all people who served in Afghanistan."

The two teams participated in a friendly cricket match.(ABC News)Raising awareness of role and mental health

Mr Stanakzai said part of the aim of the gathering was to acknowledge the work of interpreters who were now facing mental health challenges.

"[It's] so that the Australian public will know that there are people who served with the ADF, and now they are here, they are struggling," Mr Stanakzai said.

The dinner was held at a church in Para Hills.(ABC News)

"All these things can be addressed in this cricket match — it's not just cricket.

"They were just granted visas; their work was not acknowledged," Mr Stanakzai said of the interpreters.

"Nearly all of them were not eligible to certain services… They have mental health issues, they need counselling, they need all those services for their families and themselves.

"This gathering can bring them together to be introduced to each other so it can boost their mental strength."

Kabul withdrawal raises stakesDefence support services:

  • The Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone and online service for ADF members and their families 1800 628 036
  • Open Arms provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling and support for current and former ADF members and their families 1800 011 046
  • Soldier On is a national support services provider for Defence personnel, contemporary veterans, and their families. Contact during office hours 1300 620 380
  • Defence and Veterans Legal Service (DAVLS) can be contacted on 1800 33 1800

Harry Moffitt served in seven deployments to Afghanistan, with his most recent tour in 2013.

He retired from the ADF two years ago.

Mr Moffitt flew down from Melbourne to attend the game, and said it was an opportunity to revisit the relationship built in Afghanistan.

"We are recognising that there's been trauma in everybody's life, particularly since the withdrawal out of Kabul," Mr Moffitt said.

"Part of the aim is… to bring us all together as we should be, as one community, to reflect and hopefully start the healing process."

An avid cricket fan, Mr Moffitt wrote a memoir called Eleven Bats about his time in Afghanistan.

He said the much-loved sport was a great way to bring everyone together.

"Everybody gets a bat, everybody gets a bowl, everybody gets a chance to drop a catch. And I think in that way we can be vulnerable, we can celebrate each other, our failures and our successes," he said.

A minute's silence was held before the cricket match.(ABC News)

"It's something that both our countries share in common, and what better way to come together than a game of cricket?"

Everyone enjoyed a feast of Afghan food.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Organisers hope the match can become a regular fixture.

"It won't just be here, it will go to other states and all over Australia" Mr Stanakzai said.

"We're already talking about Dandenong in Melbourne, Newcastle and Albany in WA," Mr Moffitt added.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Tasmania calls in ADF medics as coronavirus tally hits 150


Tasmania has confirmed six new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours in the disease hotspot of the state’s north-west, bringing the state tally to 150.

Key points:

  • Six new cases of the disease have been found in Tasmania’s north-west
  • The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital closed on Monday morning
  • Emergency medical teams will be sent to Burnie to provide cover when the NWRH reopens

Since 6:00pm on Easter Sunday, authorities said the new cases were found in the north-west of the state, which is currently under increased restrictions.

In a statement, the director of public health, Dr Mark Veitch, said three of the cases “are health care workers, one case is an inpatient, and two cases are close contacts of previously confirmed cases”.

“Four cases are male, two are female; their ages range from the 20s to 70s,” Dr Veitch said.

As of Monday, 57 people have recovered from coronavirus in Tasmania.

The update on the disease comes as the Tasmanian Government confirmed it had called in assistance from the Federal Government and Australian Defence Force as it tries to contain a coronavirus outbreak in the region.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Between 4,000 and 5,000 Tasmanians will be forced into two weeks of quarantine from Monday as part of the shutdown of two hospitals on the north-west coast.

Tasmania COVID-19 snapshot

  • Confirmed cases: 180
  • Deaths: 6

What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?
If you think you might have COVID-19 because you feel unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and have travelled recently or had contact with a confirmed case, phone your GP or the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

Testing criteria are different for north-west residents.

Need an interpreter?
Phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and tell them your language.

For more information and factsheets:
Visit the Tasmanian Government’s coronavirus page here.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced on Sunday that Burnie’s North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital would be closed from 7:00am on Monday.

About 1,200 staff and their households will undertake the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Eleven more people, eight of them hospital staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Mr Gutwein said he understood the decision to close the hospitals and force thousands of people into quarantine would be very disruptive.

“I don’t think any Premier ever, in the history of this state, has had to ask so many people to do so much to help us to get on top of this outbreak,” he said.

“The measures we put in place now, I hope, will be supported by the north-west community.

“We need you to work with us, we need you to follow the rules, to do as we ask, to stay home, to save lives.

“We will get through this but the only way that we will get through this is together.”

He said while the quarantine order was “an extreme measure, it’s a measure that we needed to take”.

“That is unprecedented. It’s a significant ask of the north-west coast and the residents of the north-west coast,” he said.

“I would ask that you take the necessary steps to ensure that we can control this outbreak [and] not only flatten the curve, but work to crush it.”

He said it was essential people followed the rules if they wanted their lives to return to normal.

“If we can lock down for two weeks then there is an opportunity for us to return and start to lift the additional restrictions that we put in place on the north-west coast,” he said.

“This is difficult, there is an outbreak occurring there. They are the epicentre of our battle at the moment and we need you to work with us.”

Coronavirus update: Follow the latest news in our daily wrap.

Of Sunday’s cases, seven were from the NWRH, one worked at that hospital and at the Mersey Community Hospital near Devonport, one was a patient at the Mersey Community Hospital, and two were contacts.

“The provisions that we’ve made with regards to the Mersey Community Hospital, we have reconfigured that hospital, we have infectious diseases experts on site to ensure that that site is configured as safely as possible,” Health Minister Sarah Courtney said.

She said extra PPE (personal protective equipment) was being sent to the Mersey Community Hospital.

And she stressed that emergency medical care was still available on the north-west coast. 

“I’d like to reassure all Tasmanians that if you’re on the north-west coast and you experience a medical emergency, please do not hesitate to call 000,’ she said.

“We have plans in place to make sure that you get the highest quality care.”

She said ADF medics would help get the emergency department at the NWRH up and running again once it had been thoroughly cleaned.

“We are going to deploy these clean staff that have been provided from the ADF and from AusMAT (Australian Medical Assistance Teams) to Burnie to enable emergency department presentations within 72 hours,” she said. 

“That is our aim — to make sure that that community has a health care service as they need.”

Police patrols continue


Police were patrolling Table Cape this Easter weekend to check for those breaking coronavirus measures. (Supplied: Tasmania Police)

Police are promising more frequent and highly visible patrols on Tasmanian roads and in the air as the Easter long weekend comes to a close.

In the past 24 hours there were six summonses and arrests for breaches of coronavirus laws, with 20 advice notices and warnings issued.

In the 24 hours to Sunday morning, police charged 23 people with failing to comply with social-distancing laws.

On Sunday the Premier said police would be paying “special attention” to areas in the north-west.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Higgins said it was generally quiet.

“It seems that most of the community is acting responsibility, and we thank them for their compliance.,” he said.

“It is pleasing to note that the number of people doing the wrong thing has decreased in the past 24 hours.

“However, there are still examples of people taking risks and selfishly ignoring the restrictions.”

In one instance, police intercepted two men who drove nearly 500 kilometres on a return trip from Railton to Strahan, via Rosebery, to purchase a car for sale on the side of the road.

The pair stopped twice for fuel and coffee.

Police said this was an unnecessary trip which potentially put other communities at risk.

The men are being proceeded against for several offences.

“With the additional stronger restrictions on retail activity now in place in the north-west, there are fewer reasons to leave your home,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Higgins said.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

Video: Dr Norman Swan looks at some of the drugs that could treat COVID-19 and their drawbacks


Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

ADF quietly ends bushfire operations in time to ramp up coronavirus response


With little fanfare, military personnel this week formally ended their bushfire operations that had begun months before the peak of Australia’s devastating summer.

Key points:

  • ADF members have been instructed not to travel outside their local area in preparation for the coronavirus response
  • Aside from monitoring the quarantine of international travellers, ADF members could also assist with logistics and transport
  • Army Reservists are also being called upon to assist with the ADF COVID-19 efforts

As Operation Bushfire Assist concluded, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was quietly ramping up its efforts towards a larger global emergency — the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday evening, Defence’s top brass issued a military-wide edict, effectively putting its personnel on notice that they could soon be deployed on coronavirus duties.

“ADF members are not to undertake private travel outside their local area, as defined by local Commanders, when not required for duty, including on weekends, until further notice,” it declared.

The directive from the Secretary of Defence and Chief of Defence will be reviewed at the end of June.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Army to help enforce quarantine of overseas travellers

This weekend the Army is being mobilised in each state and territory to help police officers enforce strict quarantine measures on new arrivals into the country.

Video: Scott Morrison announces new quarantine measures for international travellers. (Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch)

(ABC News)

From midnight on Saturday anyone returning to Australia will be placed in supervised self-isolation, and soldiers will help state authorities enforce the strict measures.

Army members will also carry out compliance checks for those already in self-isolation but will not have powers of arrest.

“Members of the Australian Defence Force are not authorised as enforcement officers, regarding prosecution in states and territories,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said when announcing the move on Friday.

ADF expected to focus on logistics and transport

As well as helping to enforce quarantine and self-isolation, Defence has established contact tracing teams to work with governments across the country to limit the number of new infections from identified patients.

Military personnel this week also began providing logistics, communications and medic support at three border control locations on Northern Territory highways.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

In Victoria, a small defence team of engineering maintenance specialists has been dispatched to a surgical face mask factory until civilian workers can be recruited.

Army Reservists are also being called on to assist with the ADF’s increasingly visible COVID-19 efforts.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.

On Wednesday, the ABC revealed Army’s Directorate of Contingent Workforce had sent a message to both active and non-active reservists, asking if they had a “capacity and willingness” for work “likely to result from our current environment”.

Former Defence Department official Tyson Sara believes the ADF’s main contribution in the looming medical emergency will be logistics and transport.

“A large proportion of our medical capabilities sit in the Reserve and those reservists already engaged in the public health system so I wouldn’t imagine there would be a huge amount of capacity — but certainly logistics, driving trucks, warehousing things are all capabilities that the Defence Force can do,” Mr Sara told the AM program.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Since early March one of the country’s most senior military leaders, Lieutenant General John Frewen, has headed up a new COVID-19 taskforce which has been created by Defence to manage its response to the pandemic.

The ABC has been told Defence’s taskforce has been wargaming all manner of scenarios including military personnel being asked to help control law and order during the pandemic.

Mr Sara says he can’t foresee any form of civil unrest in Australia requiring a security response from the ADF.

“That’s something that may occur in other countries around the world where societies are perhaps a bit more fragile,” he said.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

The Australia Defence Association has noted that since Federation the military has only been called on to help police three times, and on two of the occasions was not actually used.

Executive Director Neil James argues it’s not constitutionally possible for “martial law” to occur in this country.

“Principle of civil primacy always applies including in extremely rare situations where the ADF may be called upon to assist civil police with armed force”.

Video: Pandemic: The fight to contain coronavirus

(Four Corners)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Nervous wait as naval ship prepares for mass evacuation of Mallacoota

Mallacoota 3892

Residents and tourists stranded in the bushfire-ravaged town of Mallacoota will have to wait until Friday morning to evacuate on board a naval ship that is docked off shore.

Key points:

  • HMAS Choules will evacuate about 800 people on Friday morning
  • It could be weeks before those who do not get evacuated can leave by road
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

About 800 people are expected to board the HMAS Choules when the evacuations begin at 7:00am.

Premier Daniel Andrews said it may be necessary for the ship to make multiple journeys.

“Some people will want to go, some people will be happy to stay,” he said.

There were hopes some of the most vulnerable people in Mallacoota could have been flown out this afternoon, but smoky conditions hindered those efforts.


About 4,000 people have been trapped in Mallacoota. (Supplied: Sean Rainey)

About 3,000 tourists and 1,000 locals are stuck in Mallacoota as roads remain cut off after a fire tore through on New Year’s Eve.

Elsewhere in East Gippsland, 17 people are still missing.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.


Smaller naval boats have arrived at the jetty at Bastion Point. (ABC News: Elias Clure)

Trapped tourists can’t get home

Samantha Corbett was visiting Mallacoota from Kyabram, in northern Victoria, with her extended family.

They rented two homes on the same street and had been looking forward to spending the week together.

Now, she just wants to get out before conditions worsen again on Saturday.

“At this stage we can’t leave Mallacoota. Obviously if they’re evacuating people we will put ourselves in for the register. But at this stage there is no way out,” she said.

“If there is a possibility of getting out, then yep, I’m on the first boat that I can get myself and my family onto.

“But if not, my plan is to be on the waterfront.”

She said the family was doing their best to be self-sufficient and not place additional stress on a town where so many people had lost everything.

“We brought a lot of stuff with us for the holiday house, so we’re quite lucky about that,” she said.

“We brought a lot of water. We’re trying to be really smart about what we’re using and how we’re using it.”


Homes and structures in Mallacoota have been reduced to twisted metal and ash. (Facebook: Jason Selmes)

Evacuation plan based on ADF process

The evacuation is being coordinated by Victoria Police and the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The Premier said people who wanted to leave were being encouraged to register through a formal process.

“People will be encouraged to register through a formal process, a well-established process that the ADF has used in many different parts of the world assisting with evacuating large numbers of people,” Mr Andrews said.

Brigadier Doug Laidlaw said the current plan was to begin transferring people to HMAS Choules around 7:00am.

“An hour or so later hopefully the vessel will be in a position to sail,” he said.

“The intent is to take those people to a Victorian port. As we understand more about the weather a decision will be made about whether that’s Welshpool or Westernport and there are different considerations that apply to each.”

HMAS Choules anchored about 1.5 kilometres off the Mallacoota shoreline this morning, loaded with supplies.

A second navy vessel, the MV Sycamore, has also arrived in the area to help.

Naval fast-recovery crafts have landed at a jetty at Bastion Point, from where emergency authorities will begin figuring out how to get people from hard-to-access parts of the town onto the boat.


HMAS Choules left Sydney on Wednesday, headed for Mallacoota. (AAP: Benjamin Ricketts/Royal Australian Navy)

‘I wouldn’t mind some fresh air’

Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner Chris Stephenson said a number of people wanted to stay behind to get their cars and caravans out of town.

With roads blocked and fires still raging, he warned it “could be two or three weeks” before that was able to happen.

Francesca Winterson, who broadcasts from Mallacoota’s local community radio station, said people were “starting to get incredibly anxious”.

“Because they have been isolated for so long, but they have to accept that right at the moment there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” she said.


Tony Priest said he was waiting to be able to go home. (ABC News)

Musician Tony Priest was visiting Mallacoota with his band when the fire approached.

“In the distant sky, seeing the red, sort of, glow approaching and then the ember attack. It was just terrifying,” he said.

Now, like many people who were visiting Mallacoota and became stranded by the fire, he said he just wanted to go home.

“I wouldn’t mind some fresh air,” he said.

“It would be nice to go back home.”

Locals prepare to stay in ‘caring and resilient community’

The fire danger for most of Victoria is expected to worsen on Friday and Saturday, as hot and windy conditions return.

But resident Gayle Sands said she would stay in the town she called home, even if the option of evacuating was made available.

Her husband Peter decided to stay and defend their house as the fire closed in on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

As I waited on the Mallacoota foreshore, I felt helpless
Gus Goswell recounts the moment he and his family prepared to enter the water as a fire roared towards them like “a freight train” on New Year’s Eve.

“I am sitting at our house thanks to my husband’s efforts at saving it,” she said.

She said she could not sleep as the fire approached the town on Monday.

“We could see the glow of the fire getting closer and closer and in the end I decided I would evacuate to the hall,” she said.

“I needed to relieve the tension of my three children who didn’t think I should stay, knowing that their father is much stronger.”

Her son-in-law, Nicholas, was defending his house in Mallacoota on his own.

“He and Peter had two-way radio communication, Nicholas was on his own and he saved so many places and he put out so many fires with a bucket of water,” she said.

“I feel very positive that the network of the community is happening quickly.

“I am fairly confident we are a loving, caring and resilient community and we get through this.”

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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