Orders, decorations, and medals of Australia: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Commonwealth of Australia until 1975 used the Imperial or British honours system. Only a handful of peerages were created for Australians, some in recognition of public services rendered in Britain rather than Australia. Some hereditary peers and baronets whose titles derive from Britain rather than Australia reside in Australia or have connections with Australia.[1] Further, two baronetcies have been created for Australians, the first for Sir William Clarke, a Victorian pastoralist, in 1880. This baronetcy was borne by Sir Rupert Clarke, the 3rd baronet, until his death in 2005. His son, Rupert Clarke, has applied for succession to the baronetcy, and his application is currently pending review.[2] The second, now extinct, was created for Samuel Way, a South Australian judge, in 1899.

The Australian Honours System was created in 1975, however some states in Australia did not relinquish their connection to the Imperial system until some time later. Most notable in this respect was Queensland, which was the last Australian state to recommend its citizens to the Queen for admission to various Orders as Knight or Dames.

In 1975, the Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam inaugurated the Order of Australia expressly to supersede all other honours for Australian purposes. Under the Fraser Liberal Government (1975-83), the Australian government began recommending honours to the full panoply of Imperial honours again, as it had done before 1975, and a degree of "knight" or "dame" was added to the Order of Australia. The succeeding Hawke Labor Government (1983-91) removed the Knight and Dame designation. Awards of knighthoods, damehoods and ranks in Imperial honours orders declined and were brought to an end by the Queen in 1994. Knights and dames and others holding Imperial honours retain legal recognition, for instance in the Australian Order of Precedence, whether or not they were nominated for the honours by the Australian government or the government of an Australian state.

The Queen does still confer honours upon Australians that emanate from her personally rather than through the government, in particular the Order of the Garter (last awarded to former Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, 1994), The Order of the Thistle (last awarded to former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, 1963), the Order of Merit (last awarded to Dame Joan Sutherland, 1991), the Royal Victorian Order (Knighthood last awarded to David Smith, 1990), and the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (for services to St John Ambulance).

Any person or organisation can make nominations of Australian citizens for Australian honours. Non-Australians can be given honorary awards for "extraordinary service to Australia or humanity at large".[3]

Nomination Forms for the Order of Australia are available through the Australian Honours Secretariat website, or upon application to the Honours Secretariat at Government House, Canberra or from any state Government House.

The Australian Honours System contains awards in addition to the Order of Australia. These include bravery awards, meritorious service awards, overseas service and long service awards.


Order of Australia

The Order of Australia insignia were designed by Stuart Devlin in 1976. Devlin used the livery colours of the Australian Coat of Arms, gold and royal blue. He also translated an individual ball of wattle blossom into a simple convex golden disc with a rich texture of beads and radiating lines accentuating a ring of blue enamel representing the sea.

The disc is surmounted by an enamel Crown signifying the position of The Order of Australia as an Australian Royal Honour. The Sovereign is Head of the Order of Australia. The Governor-General is Principal Companion and Chancellor of the Order of Australia. The blue and gold theme is continued in the ribbon. Most of the insignia pieces are produced by the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. The actual pieces for the two Divisions of the Order are identical: it is only the ribbon which differentiates an award between the General and the Military Divisions. In the Military Division the ribbon is distinguished by the addition of a narrow gold band on each edge.

When established there was the ability for the Crown to appoint Knights and Dames to the Order. This was removed on the advice of Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1986 without prejudice to any person who had been admitted to the Order at that grade. Currently there are four grades within the Order in both Military and General Divisions. Persons cannot be admitted to the Order posthumously.

The Council for the Order of Australia makes recommendations to the Governor-General as to the appropriateness of a nominee to be admitted to the Order and at what grade. It is up to the Honours Secretariat to provide the council with as much fully verified information as is possible on each nominee so that appropriate consideration may be given to each case. This is a long process and up to eighteen months can elapse between the original submission and publication of a successful nomination.

  • OrderAustraliaRibbon.png General Division ribbon
  • Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png Military Division ribbon


Knight / Dame of the Order of Australia (AK / AD)
Appointments to this class of the Order were stopped on 3 March 1986. Twelve men were made AK and two women were made AD. The full list is at Order of Australia.
Companion in the Order of Australia (AC)
Appointments are made for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large. Excluding honorary appointments, no more than 25 Companions shall be appointed in any calendar year.
Officer in the Order of Australia (AO)
Appointments made for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large. Excluding honorary appointments, no more than 100 Officers shall be appointed in any calendar year.
Member in the Order of Australia (AM)
Appointment made for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group. Excluding honorary appointments no more than 225 Members shall be appointed in any calendar year.
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Awarded for service worthy of particular recognition. There is no quota limit on awards of the Medal of the Order.

Military Gallantry Decorations

Australian Bravery Decorations


Distinguished Service Decorations

Conspicuous Service Decorations



Australian Service/Campaign

See also: Australian campaign medals

Champion Shots


Long Service Awards

See also


  • Bruce Knox (1998). "Honours". in Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart MacIntyre (eds.). The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553597-9.  

External links


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