House debates

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Questions without Notice

Australian Defence Medal

3:08 pm

Photo of Joanna GashJoanna Gash (Gilmore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is addressed to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. Would the minister advise the House what action the government is taking to recognise with the Australian Defence Medal the services of current and former Defence Force personnel?

Photo of Bruce BillsonBruce Billson (Dunkley, Liberal Party, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you to the member for Gilmore for her question. I should also acknowledge the member for Wakefield and, in fact, so many colleagues on both sides of the House who have shown a particular interest in this matter. The government is very committed to recognising with the Australian Defence Medal the service of about one million post World War II current and former ADF personnel. This medal is about recognising that those people have served this country and have fulfilled their military obligations to Australia. So the ADM is an award for service given to a grateful nation.

Her Majesty the Queen has now approved the official regulations and design of the award to acknowledge current and former ADF service men and women, regular and reserve personnel, volunteers and national servicemen—and I should acknowledge the presence in the gallery today of national service organisations representatives. These people who have served since World War II will be eligible to apply for this medal.

After extensive consultation with veterans organisations, the broader community, the service chiefs and in fact a number of people in this parliament, the eligibility criteria have been extended to include all post World War II ADF members who completed an initial enlistment period or four years of service, whichever is the lesser. Expanding on these criteria, we will accommodate those who lost their lives in service, who were medically discharged as a result of a permanent, compensable injury or those who were unable to reach their four years or initial commitment period as a result of workplace policies, such as the policy of some earlier times where female members were asked to leave if they married or became pregnant. These criteria recognise that those people have done what they undertook to do.

The medal has been created through an extensive process. This is a sample of the medal. You will see that it is a handsome, attractive and very dignified medal. It has inscribed on the back the words ‘For service’ to recognise that this is about acknowledging and saying thankyou to those people who fulfilled their undertakings to our nation since World War II. There is a circulation of information packs to all members of parliament; to ESOs, or ex-service organisations; and on the website as well. I hope all members in this House will encourage the deserving members of the ADF, present and past, to apply for this medal. We hope to have the medals available for presentation by mid-2006. They are in production. I commend this initiative to the House.