While in Singapore for the International Maritime Defence Exhibition, members of the INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 (IPE19) Joint Task Force shared humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) knowledge.
HMAS Canberra, the IPE19 flagship, is also Australia’s newest HADR capability.
Singaporean Armed Forces and emergency services representatives were welcomed on board Canberra, at Changi Naval Base, for an in-depth knowledge exchange with presentations from the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Singaporeans also visited Canberra’s world-class Primary Casualty Receiving Facility.
The commander of IPE19, Air Commodore Rick Owen, said the exchange was valuable for both nations.
“This is about sharing experiences with each other; the Singaporeans deliver HADR support to neighbouring nations very well, as does Australia,” Air Commodore Owen said.
“Canberra brings a critical HADR capability, such as providing air traffic control for aircraft dropping off supplies and people to the affected region.
“IPE is collaborating with regional partners, including our friends in Singapore, to continue building relations and trust so when we need to call on each other, we will be there to help.”
Usually an aircraft technician with the Royal Australian Air Force, Sergeant Warren Willett fills the important role of IPE19 Command Gender Adviser.
Sergeant Willett said understanding gender differences played an important part in HADR and working with other nations.
“When planning through the whole disaster management cycle, we must ensure that women, children, elderly, disabled or those otherwise disadvantaged are not only considered but engaged with and participate in decision making,” he said.
“Women face even greater risks of violence and sexual assault in the aftermath of disasters, while they can also end up caring for even more people, including other people’s children, the elderly and the injured.”
IPE19 task force members had the opportunity to visit the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (RHCC) at Changi Naval Base.
The Singaporean Armed Forces’ Major Eddie Siak, the head of coordination at the centre, said it was designed to unite nations when disaster struck.
“Our region is prone to natural disaster with the Pacific Ring of Fire and a tropical cyclone belt surrounding our borders,” Major Siak said.
“The RHCC provides a comprehensive situational picture and connects information systems to enable a more targeted and coordinated response within a critical timeframe.”
The Republic of Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC), which allows maritime security information to be shared across countries, is co-located with the facility.
“Since the launch of the Information Fusion Centre 10 years ago, we now have 16 international liaison officers, including Australian representation,” Major Siak said.
He said the centre helped keep the sea safer from illegal maritime activities.
“There are many unknowns in the maritime environment, such as unidentified vessels, unreported illegal activities and smuggling routes,” he said.
“Real-time data sharing can bridge these information and time gaps by providing actionable information to the correct parties for operational responses.”
IPE19 is on the final stretch after a successful three-month engagement with regional partners.