Victorian clerks blitz Bushfire Assist

Sergeant Warwick Harvey, of the Army Compliance & Assurance Unit, and Corporal Di Murray, of 4/19 Prince of Wales Light Horse, scrutinise personnel data during the audit. Photo: Major Cameron Jamieson

Victorian clerks blitz Bushfire Assist

In a rare peace-time activity, more than 40 Army clerks from across Victoria were brought together to reconcile the pay and allowances of personnel tasked on Operation Bushfire Assist.

The aim of the administration mission was to ensure the veracity of data accumulated on more than 2100 permanent and Reserve Defence members who served in the state with Joint Task Force 646 (JTF 646).

In one of the largest gatherings of Army clerks outside of a training establishment, they spent a weekend training and auditing at Simpson Barracks in late February.

Sergeant Stephanie Moncur, of 8/7 Battalion, Royal Victorian Regiment, who helped lead the event said the 4th Brigade, which provided much of the command and many of troops assigned to JTF 646, was committed to ensuring the accuracy of pay and entitlements due to the thousands of deployed personnel.

Sergeant Moncur said the 100 per cent audit was vital in reconciling and confirming the masses of personnel data that accumulated during the frantic weeks that followed the call-out of Defence to the bushfire crisis.

“Now we need to track what we have in the system against physical data collated in the area of operations by deployed clerks,” she said.

“A lot of the raw data has been collated and analysed. Once we have a full grasp on all the information, we will compare the data and remediate it to show where each member was located to ensure the correct pay and entitlements are provided to each deployed member.”

The data collected provides an interesting snapshot of the typical task force member. The average age of a deployed person was 32 years and eight months, with an average deployment time of 31 days.

By January 17 the force had risen to more than 1800 ADF full- and part-time personnel, with a peak of 988 reservists deployed on January 9.

For Sergeant Moncur, the Operation Bushfire Assist mission eclipsed her experiences on overseas deployments.

“My previous deployments involved up to a couple of hundred people,” she said. “Dealing with thousands of deployed people is an opportunity I never expected to experience. To test my skills under these conditions is something I have found professionally rewarding.”

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