Since 1918 Australia’s defence forces have been used by successive governments as the first point of call in responding to overseas disasters, including to deliver and distribute food and medical supplies, provide emergency medical services, transport the injured and those made homeless, and begin the arduous task of clearing debris and restoring essential services. The recently published Volume VI of The Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations, In Their Time of Need, documents thiscentury-long commitment, focusing on the overseas deployment of defence and other personnel and equipment for broadly humanitarian goals, generally in response to a call for assistance after a natural disaster or other non-conflict related emergency. This lecture, drawing on the research undertaken for the book, will explore the responses to calls for emergency relief assistance in our region, examine how the changing capacity of the Australian Defence Force has affected its ability to respond, and will highlight the varied experiences of the men and women of the defence force, police and other government organisations who have served on these missions.
Dr Steven Bullard is a graduate of the Australian National University, a senior historian at the Australian War Memorial and a Visiting Fellow at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. At the AWM he has been a senior research officer with the Australia-Japan Research Project (AJRP), and served at the project’s manager 2002-2007. In 2007 Steven was appointed a senior historian and was commissioned to write Volume VI of The Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian, and Post–Cold War Operations. His research interests include the experience of the Japanese in the Second World War, Japanese prisoners of war in Australia, war crimes trials of the Japanese conducted after the war, and Australian peacekeeping operations. In 2016 was appointed to write one volume of the Official History of Iraq and Afghanistan.