Coober Pedy News
       No. 61                                                  23 July  2004

 Letters to Editor

Archived copy

An open letter to all former & current servicemen and women, 

I am writing to you with regard to the recently announced intention of the Federal Government to strike a new medal called the Australian Defence Medal.

This medal has been included in the Australian Honours and Awards system to recognise the service of regular and reserve personnel since the end of the Second World War. Clearly, this new medal has come into being to 'balance the ledger' after the circulation of the National Service Medal a couple of years ago. 

While my members and I welcome the announcement we have some real concerns relating to the eligible period of six years. 

This is far too long and must be reduced. I appreciate that the Australian Honours and Awards system requires that medals be reserved for service above and beyond normal peacetime service and that past standards would have normally excluded such a medal, but when the government decided to create the National Service Medal the 'goal posts were changed'. 

How can we allow a situation where say a national serviceman from the 50's with 2 years part-time (176 to 140 days total) service has a medal of recognition and a regular serviceman or woman with 3 year full-time (minimum 240 per year, excluding weekends/leave etc) service without a medal? Clearly, it is unjust for those regular and reserve personnel who completed their initial training and went on to serve their country but did not serve for six years to miss out on a medal of recognition of their service. 

Now that the government has conceded that a medal should be awarded, we need to ensure that the RSL National Congress resolution be adopted by the government: 

"That the League recommends the Federal Government introduce a Defence Force Medal for all persons who have served in the Defence Force both past and present and this to include Reserve Forces. A qualifying period of two years service, not necessarily continuous, is accepted as the minimum requirement." 

Please lobby hard for our mates who are as deserving of recognition, even if they served less than six years! 

Yours sincerely, 

Gary MacRae 

President Aldgate RSL (SA)