The Australian Bravery Decorations are our own pre-eminent awards for the recognition of acts of bravery. Since the establishment of the Australian honours system in 1975 these awards have recognised acts of bravery by people whose selfless actions put themselves in jeopardy to protect the lives or property of others.
There are four levels of awards for individuals, as well as an award to recognise the bravery of a group of people involved in a single incident. The awards, commencing with the highest, are:
- Cross of Valour (CV) - Awarded for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.
- Star of Courage (SC) - Awarded for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.
- Bravery Medal (BM) - Awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.
- Commendation for Brave Conduct - Awarded for other acts of bravery which are considered worthy of recognition.
The group award is known as the Group Bravery Citation. It shall be awarded for a collective act of bravery, by a group of persons in extraordinary circumstances, that is considered worthy of recognition.
Brave acts usually involve a deliberate choice to go from a place of safety to danger or remain in a perilous situation to provide help to another. Acts involving the preservation of life, (for example, first aid) while admirable, may not be considered brave.
Council for the Australian Bravery Decorations
The Council consists of fourteen members including representatives of each state and territory, two ex-officio members and four community members. The Council meets twice yearly, usually in May and November, to consider nominations and make recommendations to the Governor-General for awards.
The following persons can be nominated:
- Australian Citizens.
- A person who is a citizen of another country and who carries out an act that may be considered worthy of recognition by Australia and in Australia’s interest.
- Members of Australia’s armed forces who carry out an act in times of peace, or of war (where the act was carried out in circumstances other than in actions against the enemy).
- Service personnel from other countries, whether in Australia or overseas.
All nominations are strictly confidential and the information provided will be used only to assist the Council in considering the merits of the nomination. The Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat keeps all nominations confidential to respect privacy and to avoid disappointment if an award is not made. We ask for the cooperation of nominators and others involved in respecting this policy.
Anyone may make a nomination by completing a nomination form.
Awards may be made posthumously and presented to the next of kin.
The process from nomination to award
When a nomination is received by the Secretariat, it is registered and an acknowledgement is sent to the nominator. Secretariat staff research and gather information and, once completed, the nominations are presented to the Australian Bravery Decorations Council for consideration. Nomination papers are sent to all members of the Council before the meetings.
The outcome of the nomination can either be:
- an award recommended;
- no award recommended; or
- deferral of the nomination for consideration at a later meeting.
The Council makes recommendations to the Governor-General on awards at all levels.
Prior to the Council recommending an award to the Governor-General, a letter of approach is sent to establish whether the nominee would be willing to accept an award if offered one.
Once the Governor-General has considered and approved those recommended for an award, congratulatory letters are sent to successful recipients.
Bravery award recipients appear in the Bravery honours list which is published twice a year on this website and publically announced through media. Publication of the list is also notified in the Commonwealth Gazette. There is no set timeframe for the announcement of bravery awards, although generally there are two announcements each year during March and August.
Upon publication of their award, recipients are entitled to have the appropriate post nominals placed after their name on all occasions when the use of such letters is customary.
Recipients are invited to attend an investiture at Government House in the State or Territory in which they reside where they are presented with their award by either the Governor-General, State Governor or the Administrator of the Northern Territory.
Investitures take place twice a year, usually in April and September.