The National Medal recognises long and diligent service by members of recognised government and voluntary organisations that risk their lives or safety to protect or assist the community in enforcement of the law or in times of emergency or natural disaster.
This includes government organisations such as ambulance, correctional, emergency, fire and police forces, and voluntary organisations such as lifesaving or search and rescue groups.
The National Medal is Australia’s most awarded civilian medal.
The National Medal was established in 1975 as one of the first three elements of the Australian honours system.
When the medal was first introduced it recognised 15 years of diligent service by members of the Australian Defence Force, Australian police forces, and fire and ambulance services.
In 1982, eligibility changed. The Defence Force Service Awards were introduced recognising long service in the Australian Defence Force. Eligibility for the National Medal progressively expanded to include people who had participated in part-time and volunteer service, members of the Australian Protective Service and correctional and emergency services.
In 1997 the government commissioned a review of the National Medal. Two significant features were added:
- eligibility was extended to include members of qualifying volunteer search and rescue groups
- provision was made for an individual’s service to be aggregated more easily across different qualifying organisations
The new regulations were formally introduced on 18 June 1999 by Letters Patent.
How it is awarded
The Governor-General awards the National Medal. Nominations are made by the chief officer of the nominee’s organisation. The chief officer of each approved organisation also administers the medal for that organisation. If you consider you are eligible for the National Medal contact your chief officer.
The award recognises long service in approved organisations that protect life and property at some risk to their members.
Many, but not all, eligible groups are uniformed. Fifteen years’ service is required to qualify. Clasps are available for each additional ten years’ service.
Please note there is no application form for the National Medal. Once a person has qualified they may approach their Chief Officer who has responsibility to make nominations to the Governor-General.
For detailed information about eligibility please refer to:-
- Chief Officer's manual - RTF 2.3MB | PDF 689KB
- Explanatory leaflet on the National Medal and voluntary search and rescue organisations - PDF 153KB
- Guide to eligible groups - RTF 136 KB | PDF 99KB
- National Medal regulations - PDF 1.13MB
- National Medal approved Voluntary Organisation Determinations PDF 1.4MB
- National Medal approved Government Organisation Determinations PDF 1.4MB
The National Medal is a circular bronze medal ensigned with the Crown of St Edward. The front of the medal features the Commonwealth Coat of Arms in a recessed circle. The rim of the medal carries the inscription ‘The National Medal’.
The back of the medal is plain.
The medal was designed by Mr Stuart Devlin AO CMG.
The 32 millimetre-wide ribbon features 15 alternating gold and blue vertical stripes.