ADF establishes Operation NSW Flood Assist

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Acting Minister for Defence

Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Minister for Defence

The Hon David Littleproud MP

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management

Media contacts

Nicky Hamer (Minister Reynolds’ Office): +61 437 989 927
Douglas Ferguson (Minister Littleproud): +61 455 448 985
Defence Media:

Release content

24 March 2021

  • Issued by Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Acting Defence Minister
  • Joint media release: the Hon David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management 


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will today establish Operation NSW FLOOD ASSIST 21-1 as part of the Federal Government’s response to the NSW flood emergency.

The ADF is supporting the NSW Government-led efforts with aerial search and rescue support, civilian evacuation operations, and preparing forces to assist in recovery operations. 

The ADF is initially deploying almost 300 ADF personnel to support this operation, expanding to around 700 personnel in the coming days. This will include around 400 from Queensland. 

Under the new Operation, ADF rotary wing aircraft, including three Army MRH-90 helicopters, will deploy from Sydney and Townsville on Thursday 25 March to supplement the two ADF helicopters from HMAS Albatross currently complementing state search and rescue capabilities.

The Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said defence assistance would be crucial in complementing the great work of NSW’s first responders and aiding in recovery efforts on the ground. 

“Our men and women of the ADF have expertise and assets which will aid NSW in search and rescue efforts. 

“When the immediate crisis has subsided, ADF capabilities and muscle will be key in helping communities recover. 

“We are proud to be able to support NSW in this way.” 

The Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the Government stands with New South Wales during these challenging times.

“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by these devastating floods in New South Wales,” Minister Payne said.

“Substantial ADF capabilities are now preparing to join this operation over the coming days, expanding on the support that commenced on Tuesday.

“When the flood waters subside, the Army Emergency Support Force will be able to assist with tasks such as clearing debris, sandbagging, clean-up duties and helping restore essential services such as electricity and water.

“Once again our ADF personnel have stepped-up in Australia’s time of need, just like they did during the Black Summer bushfires and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Yesterday, RAAF Base Richmond commenced supporting the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service to evacuate residents from the Colo River region. 

This support included: 
• providing civilian aircraft with access to RAAF Base Richmond;
• air traffic control, aircraft handling and refuelling services; and
• escorting evacuees to evacuation centres.

This support of RAAF Richmond personnel enabled the safe evacuation of anyone requiring immediate medical treatment, such as dialysis, over four separate flights.

Media Note:

Imagery for media use is available at: 

Video for media use is available at: 

These links will be updated as new content becomes available.

Other related releases