New book examines Australia’s overseas emergency relief operations, 1918-2006

In their Time of Need
Australia’s overseas emergency relief operations, 1918-2006

By Steven Bullard
Published by Cambridge University Press
RRP $179.00 in hardcover • ISBN 9781107026346


This important book is the sixth volume in The Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations series. It recounts the activities of Australia’s military forces in response to overseas natural disasters.

The outbreak of Spanish influenza which swept through the South Pacific Islands in late 1918 heralded Australia’s first involvement in humanitarian relief. The RAN’s HMAS Encounter sailed for Fiji and Samoa carrying medical staff and supplies. This was the first of many emergencies where Australian defence forces made a valuable contribution. Ironically Steven Bullard’s grandfather was a boy sailor on the Encounter.

The military’s involvement in overseas emergency management is focused primarily on the period immediately after the disaster strikes: transporting relief supplies, providing medical assistance, restoring basic services and communications and other logistical support.

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami tragedy is a good example of where Australia was one of the first countries to respond to requests for help. Such assistance is now considered to be an integral part of the ADF’s mission and their role in national security.

This volume is an authoritative and compelling history of Australia’s efforts to help its neighbours.

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