The ongoing bushfire recovery effort in Australia’s south east has seen one young Navy sailor at sea serving on the same operation as her Army Sergeant father ashore.
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Georgia Parsons and her dad Sergeant Frank Parsons, of Hastings in Victoria, are two of more than 6000 Australian Defence Force personnel now contributing to Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 across multiple states.
Georgia was recalled from leave to sail in HMAS Adelaide on 4 January to support communities on the New South Wales south coast, with Frank - a reservist with the Army's 2nd Force Support Battalion, 15 Force Support Squadron - also receiving the call to respond to the emergency situation at Mallacoota in Victoria.
With Adelaide carrying a considerable embarked force to assist in recovery efforts, Georgia has worked long days providing meals to more than 450 personnel and preparing meal packs for those going ashore to assist in vicinity of Eden and Bega.
“We have 20 Navy and Army Chefs working day and night in the galley to feed everyone, but we were expecting to be busy when we got the call so we're prepared,” Georgia, who joined the Navy just two years ago, said.
“This is the biggest thing I’ve been a part of since I joined the Navy and it feels good to be able to help. I know Dad is keen to support too.
“Dad and I received the call to go around the same time and it’s great to be a part of this operation together, even if we’re in different places.”
While Georgia has squarely focussed her efforts in the maritime space, Frank has also accomplished time at sea during Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 in HMAS Choules, which evacuated more than 1400 people from Mallacoota and provided crucial logistics support to the town.
Frank is responsible for an Army all-terrain fuel tanker which has been providing a vital flow of fuel while road access has been cut off.
“We’ve been transporting fuel into Mallacoota since just after New Year’s Eve from Choules’ on-board fuel tanks, being delivered by landing craft or aircraft. The fuel has been used to keep vehicles, heavy machinery or generators running,” Frank said.
“Fortunately fuel has been able to be delivered by road under escort in recent days, but for a while we were putting in long days to provide that critical lifeline and the appreciation of the township has felt really good.”
For Frank, a reservist for more than 30 years who normally works for Telstra at HMAS Cerberus, Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 is the first time he has been able to share a military experience with his daughter.
“There is an awesome feeling in having someone else in the family who understands what it’s like to deploy,” Frank said.
“Georgia has spent her life seeing me deploy and it's good that we can share this experience now.
“I’m extremely proud of her.”
Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST 19-20 imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: