Former Defence Chief Angus Houston will take a leading role in the international team searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet whose disappearance continues to perplex authorities.
Military crew from Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States are searching for possible debris from the missing plane. They are scanning thousands of square kilometres of ocean, far from the West Australian coast and in challenging weather.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Sunday that Air Chief Marshal Houston will lead a new joint agency coordination centre based in Perth to commandeer the Australian government’s search for MH370.
"Australia is providing extensive logistical and other support to the government of Malaysia in the investigation," Mr Abbott said in a statement.
"Air Chief Marshal Houston is an individual of enormous experience and great skill who has already served his country with distinction."
Families of those aboard the missing flight will now have a single contact point, with the joint coordination centre providing up-to-date information and travel assistance including visa services, accommodation advice, interpreter services and counselling, Mr Abbott said.
The Australian government has waived visa fees for affected families.
Air Chief Marshal Houston will work with "key Commonwealth, state and international stakeholders including the families, friends and international media".
"This multi-country search is a powerful example of international cooperation at a time of adversity," the Prime Minister added.