Christmas has come early for Indigenous communities in North Queensland as the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Australian Army join forces for the inaugural Exercise Christmas Drop Australia.
The new exercise which takes place from December 3-7, will bring together personnel from RAAF’s No. 35 Squadron and Army’s 51 Far North Queensland and Pilbara Regiments.
Minister for Defence, the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the exercise demonstrated Defence’s commitment to maintaining an active connection with Indigenous communities.
“From 3-7 December a RAAF C-27J Spartan aircraft flying out of Cairns and Karratha will airdrop supplies to isolated Indigenous communities in North Queensland and Western Australia,” Senator Reynolds said.
“The C-27J is able to reach locations that are particularly difficult to access, including using unpaved runways and airdropping cargo.
“Exercise Christmas Drop Australia will be distributing first aid kits and toiletries, as well as a special festive season cargo that includes bicycle repair kits, school supplies and sporting equipment.”
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the exercise would be supplying communities at Lockhart River and Kowanyama in Queensland, as well as Roebourne and Yandeyerra in Western Australia.
“Defence has been working closely with Indigenous Liaison Officers to select the most appropriate locations to visit, based on community needs and accessibility,” Mr Chester said.
“Exercise Christmas Drop will also provide valuable practical experience for aircrew and movements personnel, and enable them to strengthen their airdrop and collection skills.
“There’s also great satisfaction that comes with delivering supplies and gifts, and helping spread some Christmas cheer.”