People recently evacuated from Afghanistan are being assisted in their transition to a new life in Australia by ADF personnel as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist.
In Sydney, around 200 people are monitoring quarantine compliance at quarantine hotels and Sydney Airport as part of Joint Task Force 629.1.
Squadron Leader Steve Cutajar leads a team at a hotel that supports Australian citizens and visa holders evacuated from Afghanistan, called guests by the ADF.
ADF works with other agencies including hotel staff, NSW Police, NSW Health, Nursing Australia, Settlement Services International (SSI), and private security guards.
“We help manage guest arrival at the hotel using NSW Health protocols, and ensure they have clothing and bathroom supplies, as well as providing toys and necessities. essential to customers, ”said Squadron Leader Cutajar.
“SSI is the lead agency responsible for purchasing supplies; however, the ADF handled the distribution to the guests and any additional requests they might have.
The ADF team also assists health personnel by providing translators, some of whom were born in Afghanistan, who provide invaluable assistance to the transition team.
“We are also able to reassure guests and provide them with updates and manage their expectations, noting that the evacuees have had a tumultuous experience,” said Squadron Leader Cutajar.
“This includes passing material requests through SSI to purchase, and working with hotel staff to ensure their dietary needs are met and to pass information on the next steps in their integration into. Australia.”
The NSW Police Force is the primary quarantine security agency, with the ADF team providing support through compliance, language and welfare activities.
“All agencies are very happy to work with ADF because it’s something we don’t do often, and there are many opportunities to compare experiences,” said Squadron Leader Cutajar.
“Nursing Australia said they were surprised at how ADF staff responded to the tasks performed by the instructions with few questions or hesitation, no matter how small the task was.”
ADF staff work in three eight-hour shifts, each starting their day with a QR code check-in and going through security and nursing checks.
After a saliva test for any early sign of COVID-19, each limb transfers with the previous shift.
Each shift typically involves compliance checks, organizing support supplies and equipment, and gathering information about clients’ relocation preferences.
“Our team is made up of bricks of up to eight people, drawn from all three services and supported by a command and control team,” said Squadron Leader Cutajar.
“Our members come from all kinds of specializations and groupings, ranging from 25 years in the ADF to some members who have four months of service.”
Section Sergeant Kim Fletcher of the Williamtown RAAF base welcomed the opportunity to work in quarantine at the hotel.
“Operation COVID-19 Assist has given me the opportunity to continue supporting the Afghan people as I did during a deployment in 2010,” said Section Sgt. Fletcher.
“It is satisfying to know that we have helped make their transition to Australian life a more positive experience.
“It is a privilege to be able to be included in this operation.”