National Emergency Medal

National Emergency Medal front

National Emergency Medal front


The National Emergency Medal is an operational service medal which recognises significant or sustained service to others in a nationally significant emergency, for example, the bushfires in Victoria in 2009 and the floods and cyclone in Queensland in 2010 and 2011. 


The National Emergency Medal was established by Her Majesty The Queen by Letters Patent and National Emergency Medal Regulations 2011, approved by The Queen on her visit to Australia in October 2011.

The National Emergency Medal is awarded to members of identified organisations or individuals who rendered a minimum duration of service during specified dates in specified places in response to nationally significant emergencies within Australia (sustained service); or to persons who rendered extraordinary service in response to such emergencies (significant service), that did not satisfy the minimum duration of service required to constitute sustained service.

The National Emergency Medal complements the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal, which honours members of eligible Australian groups for humanitarian service overseas in hazardous circumstances.

How it is awarded

The National Emergency Medal (NEM) is administered by the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House which provides a Secretariat to the National Emergency Medal Committee (the NEM Committee).

The NEM Committee is independent of government and is made up of five members, including two ex-officio members appointed by the Minister with responsibility for the Australian honours system, and three community members appointed on the Minister’s advice by the Governor-General.

The NEM Committee provides advice to the Minister with responsibility for the Australian honours system, who then recommends to the Governor-General whether an event should be declared a nationally significant emergency for the purpose of the NEM.

Eligibility criteria for the award of the Medal is detailed in the declaration for each event.

The criteria specify:

  • the geographical area;
  • the day the emergency commenced;
  • the qualifying period of the emergency; and
  • the minimum duration, and type, of service required to qualify for sustained service.The NEM may also be awarded for significant service, as determined by the NEM Committee.

Events that have been declared include:

  • the bushfires that happened in the State of Victoria in February 2009;
  • the floods that happened in the State of Queensland during December 2010 and January 2011, and Cyclone Yasi;
  • Tropical Cyclone Debbie 2017; and
  • the floods that happened in North Queensland in January and February 2019.

Nominations for sustained or significant service may come from relevant organisations or from members of the community. As each nomination for an individual to receive the award requires verification from the deploying emergency response organisation, nominations from deploying organisations are preferred.

Further information and nomination forms are available on the Governor-General’s website.

Medal Design

A stylised representation of Australia’s national floral emblem, the wattle, is the central symbol of the National Emergency Medal.  The image around the central image is of flowering wattle, representing the accomplishments and sacrifices made by Australians in the service of others in times of crisis.  The back of the medal repeats the ring of flowering wattle, and details the award and recipient. 

Medal ribbon

The National Emergency Medal ribbon colours match the colours of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal ribbon.  The colours of the ribbon are gold and eucalyptus green.  Gold symbolises the Australian sun, optimism and hope.  Eucalyptus green complements the symbolism of the medal design.  The seven gold coloured bands represent Australia’s six states, with the seventh representing the territories.