Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal
The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal honours members of recognised Australian groups for emergency humanitarian service overseas in hazardous circumstances.
The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal was introduced following the Review of Australian Honours and Awards, which reported in late 1995.
The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal was established on 16 April 1999 by Letters Patent to recognise humanitarian service provided in response to civil unrest overseas.
Regulations were made in 2005 to enable recognition of humanitarian service provided in response to natural disasters overseas. In 2011 existing regulations were consolidated, the provisions relating to assessing eligible organisations were strengthened and the benchmark for assessing natural disaster operations clarified.
How it is awarded
The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal is a way for Australians to recognise members of Australian groups who perform humanitarian work in perilous overseas settings.
Applications for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal come directly from the community: either individuals or groups.
The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, may make the award to a person who meets the eligibility criteria.
Applicants must be members of eligible groups. This may include non-government organisations such as CARE Australia, a group of Australians working with a United Nations operation or other humanitarian organisations.
- Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal - Guide to Eligible Groups - PDF 193KB | DOCX 53KB
- Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal Application form - DOCX 110KB | PDF 89KB
Only one medal can be awarded to an individual. However, additional clasps may be awarded for eligible service in a different operational area.
The following clasps have been declared:
- British Columbia
- East Timor
- Great Lakes (Africa)
- Indian Ocean
- Northern Iraq
- Pakistan II
- South Sudan
- South Vietnam
- West Africa
The central symbol of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal is an Australian eucalyptus tree. The branches spread from the Australian land at the base of the medal to the world, which is represented by a circle.
A ring of gum nuts surrounds the circle symbolising hope and life after disaster. Like the Australian eucalyptus seeds, which regenerate following bushfires, humanitarian service assists the recovery and continuation of life.
The back of the medal repeats the ring of gum nuts, and details the award and recipient.
The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal draws its inspiration from Indigenous motifs. It was designed by Balarinji of Sydney.
The colours of the ribbon are gold and eucalyptus green. Gold symbolises the Australian sun, optimism and hope. Eucalyptus green continues the regeneration symbolism of the medal design.