Gallantry Decorations

Australia’s highest-ranking military award is the Victoria Cross for Australia (VC) which was introduced into the Australian honours system by Letters Patent on 15 January 1991, along with the Gallantry Decorations and the Unit Citation for Gallantry.

The Victoria Cross for Australia is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia’s highest military honour. It is awarded for the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

The Gallantry Decorations were instituted for the purpose of according recognition to members of the Defence Force and certain other persons who perform acts of gallantry in action. There are three levels of gallantry awards for members of the country’s armed forces, as well as an award to recognise a collective endeavour. The awards, commencing with the highest are:
  • Star of Gallantry (SG) —awarded only for acts of great heroism or conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of great peril.
  • Medal for Gallantry (MG) —awarded only for acts of gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances.
  • Commendation for Gallantry—awarded for other acts of gallantry in action which are considered worthy of recognition.

The award to recognise gallantry in action by units of the Defence Force and by units of the defence forces of other countries is known as the Unit Citation for Gallantry. This award shall be awarded to a unit only for acts of extraordinary gallantry in action. 

How awards are made

The award of a Gallantry Decoration shall be made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of State for Defence (‘the Minister’). The Governor-General may also make immediate awards of Gallantry Decorations on the recommendation of the Minister and may also delegate the authority to make immediate awards on the recommendation of the Minister. The award of the Victoria Cross for Australia shall be made, with the approval of the Sovereign, by Instrument signed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister. 

The following persons may be awarded:
  • Members of the Defence Force
  • Other persons determined by the Minister in accordance with the Regulations
Announcements

These awards are usually announced on Australia Day (26 January) and The Queen’s Birthday (June) each year.

Upon publication of their award, recipients are entitled to have the appropriate post-nominals placed after their names on all occasions when the use of such letters is customary. However, post- nominals are not conferred for either the Commendation for Gallantry or the Unit Citation for Gallantry.

The awards mentioned above may also be made posthumously and presented to the next-of-kin.

Investitures

Recipients are invited to attend an investiture at Government House in the State or Territory in which they reside where they are presented with their award by the Governor-General, State Governor or the Administrator of the Northern Territory.

Arrangements may vary for the presentation of Unit Citation, depending on the location of the Unit.

Contacts

For further information please contact the Directorate of Honours and Awards of Defence, details can be found here.