In January 2021, then Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester directed Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to consider recognition for members of the ADF who are injured, wounded or killed in or as a result of their service.
One year later, in January last year, a comprehensive report was published – recommending that suitable recognition should be instituted.
Handing down of this recommendation was not publicly notified, and not acknowledgement from or action by any minister has been seen in the year since. CONTACT stumbled across this recommendation accidentally, more than a year after it was published.
The report recommend the institution of the following new forms of medallic and emblematic recognition:
a) a Memorial Clasp – to be posthumously awarded to a member of the ADF or a veteran who dies in or as a result of service. The Clasp is to be attached to the Australian campaign or service medal most relevant to the circumstances in which the death occurred and bearing, at the discretion of the veteran’s family:
- the date of death; or
- the date of the incident leading to death; or
- no date;
b) a Gratitude Clasp – to be awarded to a member of the ADF or veteran who is seriously wounded, seriously injured or suffers a serious injury in or as a result of service.
The Clasp is to be attached to the Australian campaign or service medal most relevant to the circumstances in which wounding or injury occurred and bearing, at the discretion of the veteran (or family where posthumous recognition is sought):
- the date of wounding or injury; or
- where multiple dates of wounds or injuries have been recognised, the number of such events recognised; or
- no date;
c) a Memorial Star – A full size brooch-like emblem of a uniquely Australian design that recognises the sacrifice of the family of a member of the ADF or veteran who dies in service or whose death is service related;
d) a Gratitude Star – A full size brooch-like emblem of uniquely Australian design to recognise the sacrifice of the family of the member or veteran who has suffered a serious wound, serious injury or serious disease in or as a result of service; and
e) for veterans awarded the Gratitude Clasp, a lapel pin of separate and appropriate design for everyday wear at the discretion of the veteran.
We recommend that the Memorial Clasp, the Gratitude Clasp, the Memorial Star and the Gratitude Star be accompanied by a scroll, issued under the authority of the Governor General, to commemorate the sacrifice of the member, veteran or the family, as applicable.
We recommend that the proposed new forms of recognition be available retrospectively, to recognise death, serious wounding, serious injury or serious disease that is or was brought about in or as a result of service after 2 September 1945.
In transmitting the report and recommendations to government, the reports authors said Australia, through the Order of Australia and the Australian Defence honours and awards system, already recognises the service of members of the Australian Defence Force.
“Additionally, as detailed in this report, Australia acknowledges the wounding, injury or death of such members in a variety of essential ways – for example, through health care, income support, compensation, family support, Service bereavement pins, and memorials.
“But none of these consequences of service are reflected in the present medallic forms of recognition, none expressly convey the gratitude of the nation for individual sacrifice, and none provide a suitably solemn and individual emblem of that gratitude.
“We have concluded that it is timely, if not incumbent, for Australia to initiate such an expression of its gratitude to members and their families.
“In the attached report we detail our proposal for what we believe to be a principled scheme for providing that recognition for service-related death and serious wounding, injury or disease.
“We believe it would provide a tangible and readily recognisable expression of national gratitude for the sacrifice of ADF members killed or suffering a serious wound, injury or disease in or as a result of their service and, quite separately, that of their families, and would do so in a way that allows existing defence honours and awards to better “tell the story” of that service.
“While this scheme may be unprecedented in some respects, we believe it to be justifiable and achievable.
“We thus commend it to you and, through you, to the Government.”
Two years after the inquiry was launched and a full year after the report was handed to the government, there is no further word on the status of the recommendations.
Read the full report here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Department of Veterans’ Affairs was among those who objected to the proposed recognitions. While others who were negative to the whole idea, mainly on grounds of preserving the integrity of the Australian Honours and Awards System – DVA objected out of consideration of cost for DVA “if veterans, in order to gain eligibility for a clasp, were motivated to seek acceptance of a disability where they would not otherwise do so and are not current clients or, if they were current clients with a disability assessed at less than 30 impairment points/30% WPI, were motivated to apply for reassessment where they would not otherwise do so in order to have that assessment raised to the qualifying level. The Department also suggested that there may be impacts for it if veterans had their discharge reclassified as due to medical reasons for the purpose of gaining recognition, and then sought collateral entitlements from DVA”.