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Australian Honours and Awards

Australia has a system of honours and awards that recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement and meritorious service of extraordinary Australians in a diverse and range of fields and areas of endeavour. This system was established by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 14 February 1975 and comprises various families of medals.

Wattles feature prominently on at least some of the medals in three classes of these awards, namely, The Order of Australia, Australian Bravery Decorations and Long Service Awards. Details of the full range of awards may be found at the It’s An Honour website from the Departement of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Only those medals featuring Wattle are discussed here.

It is of historical interest to note that in 1913 Will Sowden suggested the introduction of an Australian ‘Order of the Wattle Blossom’ for non-political services of special value and eminence. This occurred at the first pan-Australian Wattle Day Conference that was held in Melbourne on 8 January 1913 under the auspices of the Wattle Day League (Sowden 1913, page 12).

The Order of Australia

The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent means of recognising outstanding achievement and contribution by Australians.

 

Medal of the Order of Australia.
Medal of the Order of Australia. Activate link to enlarge (115 Kb).

Congratulations to Marion and John Simmons at having been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (2004) and Kevin Kenneally for becoming a Member of the Order of Australia (2005). Both John & Marion and Kevin have had Acacia species named in their honour: A. simmonsiana and A. kenneallyi .

The insignia of the Order of Australia was inspired by, and is based on, an individual Wattle blossom. It was designed by Australian goldsmith Mr Stuart Devlin, who also designed the Australian decimal coins. The insignia is a simple convex golden disc with a rich texture of beads and lines accentuating a ring of blue enamel representing the sea which surrounds Australia. The disk is surmounted by an enameled Crown signifying the position of the Sovereign as Head of the Order. The whole is suspended from a ribbon of Golden Wattle motifs on a blue background. The flower and colours were taken from the Australian Coat of Arms.

The four levels of the Order are as follows.

Companion of the Order of Australia

Companion in the Order of Australia medalCOMPANION in the ORDER of AUSTRALIA [AC]. Appointments as Companions are made for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree to Australia or to humanity at large.

This image was scanned from a brochure published by the Awards and National Symbols Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Officer of the Order of Australia

Officer in the Order of Australia medalOFFICER in the ORDER of AUSTRALIA [AO]. Appointments as Officers are made for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large.

This image was scanned from a brochure published by the Awards and National Symbols Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Member of the Order of Australia

Member in the Order of Australia medalMEMBER in the ORDER of AUSTRALIA [AM]. Appointments as Members are made for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group.

This image was scanned from a brochure published by the Awards and National Symbols Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Medal of the Order of Australia

Medal of the Order of AustraliaMEDAL of the ORDER of AUSTRALIA [OAM]. The Medal of the Order is made for service worthy of particular recognition.

This image was scanned from a brochure published by the Awards and National Symbols Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Australian Bravery Decorations

There are four Australian Bravery Decorations one if which is The Bravery Medal (BM) that features Wattle blossoms. This medal is awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.

The Bravery Medal is a circular bronze medal with the shield and crest of the Australian Coat of Arms as its centre, on a back ground of Wattle blossom, contained by a zig-zag border. It is suspended by a Crown attached to a bar carrying the inscription “For Bravery”. The ribbon uses the two reds (which symbolize the two colours of blood) of the other two bravery decorations in fifteen alternating vertical stripes.

Long Service Awards

There are six Long Service Awards one of which, The National Medal, features Wattle blossoms.

This medal is a circular bronze medal with the Australian Coat of Arms (including Wattle blossoms) contained within a wider rim carrying the inscription ‘The National Medal: For Service’. It is suspended by a Crown attached to a ribbon of fifteen alternating gold and blue vertical stripes.

Reference

Sowden, W.J. (1913). Outline History of the Wattle blossom celebration in Australia. History of the Wattle Day movement. (Published for the Australian Wattle Day League and printed by W.K. Thomas and Co., Adelaide.)

Other sources consulted

Anonymous (undated). The Australian system of honours and awards. Pamphlet published by Canberra Publishing & Printing Co. R76/1494.

Daily News (1976). Wattle the sign of honour. Newspaper article, 13 February 1976.

Pamphlets and leaflets provided (March 2000) through courtesy of Helen Dempsey, Awards and National Symbols Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Page last updated: Thursday 15 December 2016