The Federal Government is working with local industry to increase domestic production of medical protective equipment such as surgical face masks, sanitizer, goggles and gowns amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
Med-Con Pty Ltd – a manufacturer near Shepparton in regional Victoria – has increased production with the support of the Government and the Australian Defence Force.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said work is underway to significantly increase their manufacturing capability over time to meet demand as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.
“From helping to access new equipment to providing staff, we are doing what we can to enable companies like Med-Con to ramp up production and boost our domestic capacity,” Minister Andrews said.
“There’s a lot of fear in the community at the moment but Australians should know that work is happening to help us best respond to this unfolding crisis.
“This is important work but it’s also essential we get it right – this equipment needs to be produced to the highest standards.”
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said around a dozen ADF personnel are helping under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) arrangements.
“The team, which is comprised of highly qualified engineering maintenance specialists from the Army Logistic Training Centre and the Joint Logistics Unit – Victoria, are supporting the request,” Minister Reynolds said.
“These skilled soldiers are with the company’s existing staff on production, maintenance and warehousing tasks.
“The Defence support will fill a short-term gap while Med-Con Pty Ltd recruits and trains supplementary staff. This is an example of the kind of exceptional circumstances which the DACC rules are designed to cover.”
In addition the Government has put out a Request for Information (RFI) to get a further understanding of the manufacturing capability and capacity that exists domestically, so that as a country, we are well-positioned to increase production of these products at home.
Minister Andrews added, “we are casting the net as widely as we can, asking manufacturers if they have the ability to diversify the work they do.”
“As those opportunities continue to present we will work with manufacturers to support their transition.
“Australian manufacturers have already been reaching out with offers to help. I’m confident our Aussie ingenuity will guide us through this difficult time.”