Distinguished Service Medal


The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for distinguished leadership in action.

It is the second level of the Distinguished Service Decorations.


The Distinguished Service Decorations recognise command and leadership in military action. They are awarded primarily to members of the Australian Defence Force.

The Distinguished Service Decorations were introduced in 1991 and replaced a number of Imperial decorations.

There are three levels of decoration:

Past recipients

The first Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to Corporal Thomas Alexander Aitken of the Australian Army in November 1993. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for distinguished leadership in Somalia during Operation Solace.

Search the Australian Honours List for past recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal.

View the numbers awarded for the Distinguished Service Medal.

How it is awarded

The Distinguished Service Decorations are awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister for Defence.

Distinguished Service Decorations may be awarded posthumously.

If the same person receives a further Distinguished Service Medal it is in the form of a nickel-silver bar.

Recipients have the post-nominals of DSM. Those awarded a bar or bars may also use ‘and Bar’ or ‘and Bars’ after their name.

The Distinguished Service Medal is announced on Australia Day (January 26) and the Queen’s Birthday (June) of each year.

Medal design

Distinguished Service Medal - front

Distinguished Service Medal - front

The Distinguished Service Medal is ensigned with the Crown of St Edward in nickel-silver. The obverse has a Federation star superimposed on a circle of flames.

The medal has a nickel-silver suspender bar.

Medal ribbon

The medal ribbon has alternating vertical stripes: four silver-blue and three ochre-red.

Print fact sheet

The information on this page is available as a printable fact sheet.

Last Updated: 29 September, 2008