049/2005 - Department of Defence

Minister for Defence
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Thursday, 24 March 2005
Defence Minister Robert Hill has today announced the completion of the Australian
Defence Force’s humanitarian mission to provide emergency disaster relief to the
tsunami-devastated province of Aceh in Indonesia.
Senator Hill said the ADF involvement will end when HMAS KANIMBLA finally
departs from Indonesian waters tomorrow, Good Friday. However, the commitment
to assist with the rebuilding of Aceh will continue over the next five years with the
Australian Government’s $1 billion aid package.
“The immediate aim of the ADF emergency relief effort was to restore hospital
services, water and other infrastructure to the people of Aceh, under the direction of
the Indonesian authorities. This aim has now been achieved,” Senator Hill said.
“Operation SUMATRA ASSIST has been the largest humanitarian assistance
mission ever performed by the Australian Defence Force.
“All Australians can be rightly proud of the efforts of our sailors, soldiers, airmen
and airwomen.
“In the 90 days since the tragedy occurred, more than 1000 ADF personnel have
been involved in the operation, under the command of Brigadier David Chalmers.
“Together with a C130 transport aircraft and a medical team from the New Zealand
Defence Force, the mission was a true ANZAC effort.
“The ANZAC Field Hospital, established in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh,
restored a critical medical capability in a time of extreme need, performing nearly
3700 medical treatments and 290 operations before being handed back to
Indonesian authorities.
“The initial response was provided by RAAF C130 transport aircraft which used the
Royal Malaysian Air Force airfield at Butterworth as a staging post and continued to
provide airlift support throughout the operation.”
HMAS KANIMBLA transported engineers and heavy construction machinery from
Darwin then remained off the coast of Aceh supporting ADF personnel on the
ground. Navy personnel onboard KANIMBLA joined daily work parties ashore.
Australian Army engineers cleared nearly 10,000 cubic metres of mud and
hazardous debris from roads, drains and buildings, enabling surviving residents to
begin the long process of restoring their lives. More than 4,600,000 litres of clean
water were produced for drinking and washing.
At the Banda Aceh Airport, RAAF Air Traffic Controllers helped restore order to the
local airspace, which had quickly become overcrowded by international air traffic
bringing aid to the devastated province. An ADF logistics team organised the large
amount of aid for orderly distribution to the most needy.
Australian Army Iroquois helicopters distributed over 1200 tonnes of humanitarian
supplies to villages and communities cut-off by earthquake and tsunami damage.
They also carried over 2500 displaced persons to safety and assisted with 70
aeromedical evacuations.
Brigadier Chalmers will return to Sydney on Monday, along with the remaining ADF
personnel, while HMAS KANIMBLA is due to berth in Sydney in mid April.
Media contacts
Sascha Meldrum
Defence Media Liaison
(Senator Hill)
08 8237 7920
02 6265 3343
0409 034 241
0408 498 664