defence - 2ST

New contract presents big boost for Nowra company


There's good news for Nowra business Opstar which has won a $12 million contract to provide search and rescue services at naval base HMAS Albatross.

Opstar managing director John Giffard said the new contract extended an arrangement that had been going for the past five years, and which last year saw his company respond to 60 incidents.

He said the contract made the most of says Opstar's specialist capabilities to locate, access and extricate people if difficult circumstances.

"We have to be ready at one minute's notice for military flying operations, but as part of that we do a bunch of other things as well and it's all those put together that make it quite an enjoyable contract to perform," Mr Giffard said.

Opstar has two key contracts with Defence, as well as fulfilling differing roles with a range of other organisations locally and nationally.

"We do quite a few jobs for Defence generally and we also provide services for other Commonwealth departments ,and we will occasionally enjoy assisting the state-based services if they ask for it," Mr Giffard said.

Opstar's work has been praised by Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price.

She said Opstar had been instrumental in developing search and rescue capability to prepare for a wide variety of situations including aviation emergency response, first response medical treatment and extraction and recovery services both day and night.

And Ms Price said the contract was a testament to the strength of defence industry in Nowra and the South Coast region.


“Opstar has been instrumental in developing the search and rescue capability to prepare for a wide variety of potential incidents that may occur at HMAS Albatross and associated training areas,” Ms Price said.

“This contract will ensure that our Navy personnel receive crucial emergency response services if and when they need."

The contract will allow Opstar to continue providing aviation emergency response and land based rescue services at HMAS Albatross until mid-2023, with the option of two one-year extensions.

“The government is committed to supporting our local defence industry and this contract recognises Opstar’s exceptional performance and dedication to Defence,” Ms Price said.

“Opstar employs nearly 50 employees in the Nowra region and these jobs have been secured as a result of this contract.”

Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan said this was an important investment to help build and maintain Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities, but more importantly, saving lives.  

“The Morrison Government is investing in the best possible capability for our defence industry, and it is great that a local business will be playing a leading role in search and rescue operations for Navy personnel in Nowra,” Mr Molan said.

“This contract will not only facilitate essential emergency response services, but also continue to support local jobs and support families in the electorate of Gilmore.”

Images: Opstar / Facebook

TAFE opens the door to jobs in Shoalhaven defence industry

Production and manufacturing in Australia is rising and strengthening GDP and overall economy. Employment in processing sector in Australia is growing.

People looking for new careers and opportunities have a chance to get their foot in the door with the region's booming defence industry.

Nowra TAFE has joined forces with the Shoalhaven defence supply chain industry, to offer a free employment program to jumpstart a career in the industry.

Ryan Harding from TAFE NSW said students would start next week on a Certificate 1 in Engineering and work placement with defence accredited businesses.

"There's a number of local businesses in the Shoalhaven that are needing skilled workforce, so as a result TAFE partnered with the Shoalhaven Defence Industry Group and training services to offer a 10-week program," he said.

That includes six weeks in class learning a range of technical skills, and four weeks of work experience at some of the Shoalhaven's leading businesses that are lining up to be involved in the program.

And there is a promise of plenty of long-term jobs for people who complete the  course.

"Our business partners are Air Affairs, Sikorsky, Global Defence Solutions, Mellori and NowChem, and they're looking to offer jobs to the participants in aircraft maintenance, advanced manufacturing and logistics, just to name a few," Mr Harding said.

"These are quite high -value jobs and this is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door in a booming industry."

The program is part of a local strategy to help address skill shortages and support Shoalhaven defence suppliers to meet increased demand after the Australian Government’s $200 billion investment to increase defence capability.
TAFE NSW Head Teacher Metal Fabrication and Welding Trades, Nathan Bayliss, said the program offered anyone looking to start a career or reskill the chance to explore a career pathway in a fast-growing industry. 

"There is high demand in the Shoalhaven area for skilled workers in a range of areas, including advanced manufacturing, engineering, electronics, welding, and aircraft maintenance,” Mr Bayliss said.  

"Students will attend training three days a week at TAFE NSW Nowra, learning real-world practical skills in engineering and fabrication. The program will give students a competitive edge, with the skills ready to start work in the industry."

One of the business partners is Air Affairs Australia, and production manager Darren Bramley said finding workers with the right skill set had been challenging . 
"This program will help train students with the work-ready skills industry needs and connect our business with potential job candidates," he said.     
People interested in being part of the Defence Industry Workforce program can register by contacting Daniel Bennett, Illawarra Yes Coordinator on 0408 937 070 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..