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Australian emergency personnel thanked for their efforts in New Zealand and Japan

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Australian emergency personnel thanked for their efforts in New Zealand and Japan TUE 24 MAY 2011

Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Prime Minister Julia Gillard tonight hosted a reception at Parliament House to thank the Australian rescuers, medical experts, police and Australian Defence Force personnel involved in the emergency responses to the Christchurch earthquake and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd joined the Prime Minster at the reception, which was attended by around 80 representatives of emergency services agencies from around Australia.

More than 800 Australian personnel were deployed to New Zealand and Japan following the devastating natural disasters in these countries.

Each one of these men and women did a tremendous job often in incredibly difficult circumstances.

Following February’s Christchurch earthquake, Australia deployed a total of three 72-strong Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams; a 24 person Medical Assistance Team including trauma surgeons and nurses; a 75-bed field hospital; 16 ambulance officers; and 500 police drawn from state and federal police agencies.

Many of these Australians remained in Christchurch for weeks after the earthquake, continuing to search for survivors with rescue teams from around the world and providing medical, policing and logistical support to New Zealand authorities.

A 72-strong NSW-based USAR Team was also deployed to the Miyagi region of Japan in March to help rescue efforts. Members of this team were moved by the remarkable stoicism and generosity of local people who had lost everything.

Both the New Zealand and Japanese Governments have expressed their deep gratitude for the assistance provided by Australia in the wake of these disasters.

The Government acknowledges the important role of all state and territory governments in assisting with these emergency efforts.

On behalf of all Australians, the Government thanks these emergency responders and support staff for their selfless contributions to these rescue missions.

The Government also recognises the work behind the scenes of the Australian Defence Force, Emergency Management Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs in coordinating the emergency missions to New Zealand and Japan.