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Case study - Supporting Defence capability in times of crisis

In early 2020 Australia experienced unprecedented extreme weather events ranging from widespread catastrophic bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria to significant hail storms affecting Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. The timing of these events at the heart of the posting period presented many challenges for DHA and ADF families.

Supporting Defence capability in times of crisis

Over the years DHA has supported ADF members and their families through natural disasters, including cyclones, floods and bushfires. DHA’s incident management and business continuity plans provide clear direction regarding emergency management and communication throughout an unfolding disaster and into the recovery stages.

DHA uses the Gold Silver Bronze command structure, which provides a clear and direct command and control response and allowing critical business tasks to be prioritised. The Gold command team takes overarching control of the incident, with the Silver command team coordinating operational strategies developed by the Bronze command team. The teams consist of specialists from across all areas of DHA and combine to deliver a unified response.

This approach requires all business units in DHA to provide support and take direction from the Gold command team, safeguarding staff, ADF members and their families while ensuring continuity of service.

As a devastating bushfire gripped the coast of Victoria leaving thousands of residents and holiday makers seeking shelter on the beach, DHA joined forces with the ADF to support the rescue of men, women, children and pets from the approaching fires. DHA answered the call to help source accommodation on Defence bases across the country. DHA’s Living in Accommodation Contact Centre began the mammoth task of ensuring maximum availability by ascertaining all vacant rooms, relocating incoming ADF members to other accommodation, and liaising with service providers on the bases. These rooms were used to house displaced Australians at very short notice, including civilian firefighting crews and Defence Reservists responding to the emergency.

Administratively this was a significant operation requiring an agile response to safely house civilians at sensitive Defence bases. Despite these challenges, DHA was able to assist in providing safe haven accommodation for those affected by the bushfires.