Distinguished Service Decorations

The Distinguished Service Decorations and the Meritorious Unit Citation were approved by Her Majesty The Queen on 15 January 1991 and replaced a number of Imperial decorations.

The Distinguished Service Decorations were instituted for the purpose of recognising service in warlike operations. They are awarded primarily to members of the Australian Defence Force.

There are three levels of decoration:

  • Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) - awarded only for distinguished command and leadership in warlike operations.
  • Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) - awarded only for distinguished leadership in warlike operations.
  • Commendation for Distinguished Service - awarded only for distinguished performance of duties in warlike operations.

The award to recognise sustained outstanding service in warlike operations by units of the Defence Force and by units of the defence forces of other countries is known as the Meritorious Unit Citation.

How awards are made

The Governor-General makes the award of Distinguished Service Decorations and Meritorious Unit Citations on the recommendation of the Minister of State for Defence.  The Governor-General may also make immediate awards of Distinguished Service Decorations on the recommendation of the Minister and these are announced separately as they occur.


These awards are normally set for announcement on Australia Day (26 January) and The Queen's Birthday (June) each year.

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. This is not applicable to the awards of the Commendation for Distinguished Service and the Meritorious Unit Citation which do not confer post nominals.

The awards mentioned above may also be made posthumously and presented to the next-of-kin.

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 the Governor-General, State Governor or the Administrator of the Northern Territory.
Investitures take place twice a year, usually in April and September.

For further information please contact the Directorate of Honours and Awards of Defence, details can be found here.