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Regional Forum On Natural Disaster Response

Thursday, 15 September 2005 153/2005

Regional Forum On Natural Disaster Response

Australia and the ASEAN Regional Forum are working together to develop coordinated disaster responses to improve the region's ability to respond to natural disasters.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said Australia and the Philippines have this week co-hosted a two-day workshop on Civil Military Operations in Manila, which ended today.

Senator Hill said the workshop focused on improving disaster response capabilities, coordination between the military and civil agencies, and interoperability among ASEAN Regional Forum members.

"Civil and Military representatives from 24 ASEAN member countries met to exchange information on each country's experience in responding to natural disasters," Senator Hill said.

"The workshop included a natural disaster table top exercise, involving discussion on the mechanisms within each country that would be activated following a natural disaster in the region.

"This workshop is an opportunity to build upon the successful regional response to the 2004 Boxing Day Asian tsunami crisis which was underpinned by effective civil-military cooperation.

"Through co-hosting this conference, Australia is playing an active part in further refining the role regional Defence Forces can play in disaster relief and emergency assistance.

"A coordinated regional effort is a critical component in successfully responding to future regional security challenges and crises." A key outcome from the seminar has been an agreement to compile an inventory of the disaster response capabilities of ASEAN Regional Forum members as the first step in improving our collective ability to respond to natural disasters.

The workshop builds on discussions between Senator Hill and the Philippines National Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz during a visit to Australia in April and discussions at the Fourth Asia Security Conference (Shangri La Dialogue) held in Singapore in June.

ENDS

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