Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal

Significance

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal honours members of recognised Australian groups for emergency humanitarian service overseas in hazardous circumstances.

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal complements the Australian Service Medal (which is awarded to members of the Australian Defence Force) and the Police Overseas Service Medal.

History

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal was introduced following the Review of Australian Honours and Awards, which reported in late 1995.

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal was established on 16 April 1999 by Letters Patent to recognise humanitarian service provided in response to civil unrest overseas.

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal Regulations were amended in 2005 to enable recognition of humanitarian service provided in response to national disasters overseas.

Past recipients

Read about Mr Scott Rankin who received the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (with clasp ‘Cambodia’) in 2004 for his work in helping to rebuild war-shattered communities in Cambodia.

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

View the numbers awarded for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal.

How it is awarded

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal is a way for Australians to recognise members of Australian groups who perform humanitarian work in perilous overseas settings.

Applications for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal come directly from the community: either individuals or groups.

The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, may make the award to a person who meets the eligibility criteria.

Applicants must be members of eligible groups. This may include non-government organisations such as CARE Australia, a group of Australians working with a United Nations operation or other humanitarian organisations.

Only one medal can be awarded to an individual. However, additional clasps may be awarded for eligible service in a different operational area.

The following clasps have been declared:

  • Afghanistan
  • Balkans
  • British Columbia
  • Cambodia
  • Christchurch
  • East Timor
  • Great Lakes (Africa)
  • Haiti
  • Indian Ocean
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Mozambique
  • Northern Iraq
  • Pakistan
  • Pakistan II
  • Samoa
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • South Vietnam

Medal design

Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal- frontHumanitarian Overseas Service Medal - back

Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal- front

The central symbol of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal is an Australian eucalyptus tree. The branches spread from the Australian land at the base of the medal to the world, which is represented by a circle.

A ring of gum nuts surrounds the circle symbolising hope and life after disaster. Like the Australian eucalyptus seeds, which regenerate following bushfires, humanitarian service assists the recovery and continuation of life.

The back of the medal repeats the ring of gum nuts, and details the award and recipient.

The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal draws its inspiration from Indigenous motifs. It was designed by Balarinji of Sydney.

Medal Ribbon

The colours of the ribbon are gold and eucalyptus green. Gold symbolises the Australian sun, optimism and hope. Eucalyptus green continues the regeneration symbolism of the medal design.

Nomination forms

For a copy of the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal application form see the Applying for an Award section of this website.

Print fact sheet

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

More information

For more information on making a nomination for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal contact:

Honours, Symbols and Territories Branch
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Ph: 02-6271 5601
Fax: 02-6271 5662

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Last Updated: 11 November, 2013