Those who die in the line of duty to be eligible for the National Medal

Release Date: 
4 February 2020
Media release

Brave emergency service personnel who have given the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the line of duty, will now be eligible for the National Medal posthumously.

“Those who die in the line of duty have contributed to saving the lives of other Australians and protecting communities and property, and the Government considers it appropriate they be eligible for recognition of their service with the award of the National Medal,” said Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet the Hon Ben Morton.

The National Medal is Australia’s most awarded civilian medal with more than 237,000 medals awarded since its inception. It recognises the long and diligent service by members of eligible Australian government and community organisations that risk their lives or safety to protect or assist the community. It is awarded after 15 years’ service.

The Government recommended to Her Majesty The Queen – through the Governor-General – that the eligibility requirements for the award of the Medal should be extended to allow posthumous recognition for a person who has died in the line of duty with less than the requisite 15 years’ service.

“I am pleased to say that Her Majesty has accepted the Government’s recommendation, so that the Medal will be able to be awarded posthumously,” Assistant Minister Morton said.

“Tragically, as we know, brave Australian firefighters have lost their lives during the recent bushfires. Appropriately, those who have made that sacrifice will be eligible to be awarded National Medal posthumously, if they have not yet received the Medal for 15 years’ service.”

“Historically the National Medal, which recognises and celebrates the sustained service of outstanding Australians, had not been able to be awarded to a person who has died in the line of duty but with less than 15 years’ service.”

“This change is retrospective to the inception of the National Medal in 1975 so individuals who have dutifully served and died in the line of duty over the past 45 years can be recommended by their organisation for the National Medal.”

Members of recognised government and voluntary organisations are eligible for the National Medal including government organisations such as ambulance, correctional and emergency services, fire brigades, police forces, and voluntary organisations such as lifesaving and search and rescue groups.

Chief Officers of eligible organisations will be able to recommend to the Governor-General that members who die in the line of duty, without serving the required 15 years, receive the National Medal.