National Emergency Medal (Australia)

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National Emergency Medal
AUS National Emergency Medal ribbon bar.png
Ribbon bar of the medal
Awarded by Australia
Type Medal
Eligibility Members of identified organisations or individuals who rendered sustained service during specified dates in specified places in response to nationally-significant emergencies within Australia
Awarded for Sustained service
Status Currently awarded
Clasps Vic Fires 09
Qld 2010–11
Statistics
Established 23 October 2011
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal[1][2]
Next (lower) Civilian Service Medal 1939–1945
Related Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal

The National Emergency Medal is an award of the Australian honours system given for sustained service during a nationally-significant emergency. The medal was established by Her Majesty The Queen in October 2011. The medal is awarded for events specifically set out by regulation or may be awarded upon the recommendation of the National Emergency Medal Committee for significant service.[3]

Description[edit]

The National Emergency Medal is a circular medal, ensigned with the Australian Coat of Arms. The obverse depicts a central image of a Golden Wattle branch. Surrounding the image at the edge is a further depiction of the flowering wattle. The center of the reverse has the same border as the obverse, but in the center it details by inscription the award and the recipient.

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.[4]

Clasps[edit]

Vic Fires 09[edit]

Those who performed service during the Black Saturday bushfires and meet certain criteria are recognized with the "Vic Fires 09" clasp. Requirements include:

  • Service must be in the protection of lives and property, or in the service of interests, that are not their own, in direct response to the emergency, including support that enables or facilitates the emergency response;
  • The geographical area is the State of Victoria
  • The qualifying period begins on 28 January 2009 and ends on 5 March 2009
  • The minimum duration of service that a person is required to have completed to qualify is fourteen days in paid service, including at least two days in the period beginning on 7 February and ending on 14 February 2009. For unpaid service the required length is seven days, including at least one day in the period beginning on 7 February and ending on 14 February 2009

Qld 2010–11[edit]

Those who performed service during the Queensland Floods and Cyclone Yasi and met certain criteria are recognized by the "Qld 2010–11" clasp. Requirements include:

  • Service must be in the protection of lives and property, or in the service of interests, that are not their own, in direct response to the emergency, including support that enables or facilitates the emergency response;
  • The geographical area is the State of Queensland
  • The qualifying period begins on 21 December 2010 and ends on 14 February 2011
  • The minimum duration of service that a person is required to have completed to qualify is twenty eight days of paid service or fourteen days of unpaid service.

Recipients[edit]

As of May 2014 the number of recipients listed in the Australian Honours database has increased. It is well known that this medal has been awarded in far greater numbers than this, however the roll has not been updated for reasons unknown.

As of June 30, 2013, 6,186 National Emergency Medals have been awarded, including 84 for Significant Service. Five people have been recognised for service in both the Queensland and Victorian emergencies.[5]

Criticism[edit]

The criteria for award of the National Emergency Medal has been criticised as not honouring the efforts of many volunteers. Due to safety issues many volunteers were rotated out of disaster areas after a few days and unable to spend the required amount of time on the ground in the disaster area to qualify for the medal.[6]

Lucy Kippist, writer at The Punch described the "confusing, disorganised and grossly unfair way the National Emergency Medal was put together in the first place. Thousands of volunteers across the country also expected to be on that list." She also stated that after announcing the creation of the new medal, the "Prime Minister neglected to mention that most of the volunteers who served in those regions were completely ineligible for the award.[6]

Prime Minister Julia Gillard when announcing the new medal, quoted that the medal is "an award for the many, not the few." This statement has since proved to be incorrect as most emergency services volunteers, even those who were involved in all three relevant national emergencies, ie, Victorian fires, Brisbane floods and Cyclone Yasi, are ineligible for the award.

Apart from this, issues arise with people who may have spent five days in Victoria, five days in Brisbane floods and another five days involved in Cyclone Yasi, a total of 15 days in national emergency areas but still not able to qualify for the medal, even though seven days is enough for Victoria alone. It is believed that the government is looking into these eligibility issues.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Emergency Medal". Australian Honours Secretariat. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Order of Wearing of Australian Honours and Awards". It's an Honour. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Governor-General of Australia :: National Emergency Medal". Gg.gov.au. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat. "National Emergency Medal Fact Sheet". http://www.gg.gov.au. Government House, Canberra. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Commonwealth of Australia, Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General (30 June 2013), "Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General Annual Report 2012-2013", http://www.gg.gov.au/, retrieved 5 June 2014 
  6. ^ a b Kippist, Lucy. "A muddled medal: Our volunteers deserve more". The Punch. Retrieved 25 September 2012.