Enhancing domestic security arrangements through Exercise Austral Shield

Exercise Austral Shield, a combined Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Victoria Police exercise, has concluded in the La Trobe Valley this weekend, testing the new and enhanced arrangements for responses to domestic security incidents.

Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, said the exercise strengthened interoperability between Victoria Police and the ADF and highlighted the professionalism and preparedness of both forces.

“The scenario required the rapid response of the ADF’s ready forces to be positioned to support a request from the Victorian Government,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

“Support included the establishment of joint Victorian Police and Defence checkpoints, joint patrols and searches, and the controlling of access to a major facility such as the AGL Loy Yang power facility.”

“The exercise enabled the ADF to work more effectively with state police and to practice complex command and control arrangements in the event of a national security crisis.”

Exercise Austral Shield is the first joint ADF and police exercise to rehearse the powers under the amended Defence Act 1903, since the legislation came into effect on 10 June 2019.

States and territories retain responsibility as first responders to domestic security incidents in their jurisdictions, however the amendments ensure that the Commonwealth can now more easily respond to requests from states and territories for ADF assistance.

Lieutenant General Bilton said Exercise Austral Shield had been a great test of the new arrangements and legislation.

“Lessons from this exercise will improve our operational plans and procedures to ensure our security agencies are ready to respond to any contingency that may confront them.”

Approximately 75 Victoria Police and 150 ADF personnel, including elements of the Army Reserve’s 4th Brigade, participated in the exercise held at the AGL Loy Yang Power Station facility in the La Trobe Valley.

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