Recognition of your Service

Australian Emergency Service Medal Proposal by Stuart Greenfield

About the Author

G’day, I’m not a firefighter like you or even a member of any emergency service organisation, just a member of the public with a deep appreciation of the work you do, and of course those in the other Emergency Service Agencies.

Why am I writing for your magazine and web site?

I’m a bit of a medal nerd and a couple of years ago after writing to the Directorate of Honours and Awards at the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet I wrote to the Commissioners and Chief Officers of all the Emergency Service Agencies in Australia with a medal proposal.

This medal is nothing new, it’s based entirely on the Australian Defence Medal (ADM), I thought this same type of medal would work for Emergency Service Agencies just as it does for Defence. In other words, there should be an equivalent medal for Emergency Service, for you.

The ADM is a commemorative medal that is awarded to all Defence personnel after essentially 4 years of service. It doesn’t represent 4 years of service, just as the 28-day qualifying criteria for something like the Afghanistan War Medal doesn’t represent just 28 days in country, it represents so much more. I’ll get to that later.

I believe this medal is important because there are precious few national medals that recognize the extraordinary service and commitment you show to your community, not to mention the incredible bravery that so many of you show in the provision of that service. Not only that, but many of you will also leave the service after many years with no national medal or maybe only one to show for those many years of commitment and service, and quite frankly that is disgraceful. Some of you may be awarded the National Medal, and thankfully many of you will receive, if you haven’t already, the National Emergency Medal with clasp representing those horrific fires of 2019-20. And yes, there is the Australian Fire Service Medal, but that is rarer than an Order of Australia, which is fine because it’s that sort of medal. But still, there are too few medals available to you, and I believe that needs to change.

My medal proposal is different, in that everyone qualifies. Not everyone qualifies for the National Medal, or the National Emergency Medal, and it represents a certain event or period in time similar to a military campaign or General Service Medal. There is no Long Service Good Conduct Medal available to you either. My proposal is a medal that represents a gift to you from your nation that recognizes your services and commitment to the Australian community. It doesn’t just recognize your service on the fire ground it represents all those days and weeks of training beforehand, committee meetings and maintenance days and fund raisers. Not to mention the other emergencies you are required to attend like car accidents. It represents the gratitude we feel as a nation for all that time you are required to spend away from your families and those special days you miss.

This medal will be awarded to those people who the media forgets, those hundreds of other personnel who keep the front-line fire fighters fighting, those who feed and water you, those who fix your equipment and resupply you with water and fuel to allow you to stay and fight on. To the medical personnel who patch you up at what can only be described as casualty clearing stations. It will be awarded to those who take calls from terrified people screaming down the line for help to save them, their families, their property, pets or livestock, an incredibly stressful job in itself. This medal represents, what comes before the fire, the fighting of the fire and after the fire.

Many of the Commissioners and Chief Officers suggested I send the proposal to AFAC. The proposal was considered by the Commissioners and Chief Officers Strategic Committee, CCOSC, in both 2019 and 2020 and in spite of even receiving Ministerial support they decided not to proceed with the proposal. The CCOSC is co-chaired by the Director General of Emergency Management Australia, a senior official in the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. Christian Porter was the Attorney General at the time, and I believe this to be the Ministerial support the proposal received.

So now, I’m taking this proposal to the Unions representing Emergency Services agencies around the country to enlist their support to get this medal instituted and maybe a few others as well. I didn’t come to you in the first place because I honestly didn’t think I would need to. My plan was to call in the Unions if the relevant State and Federal Ministers didn’t support it. How wrong was I?

So, I simply ask you to consider the proposal and pass on your thoughts to your rep and if you have any questions, please feel free to pass them onto me at stuartag@tpg.com.au

Thank you for your time, but more importantly, thank you for your service.

For my full proposal please click on the button below.

VFFA Disclaimer

The attached proposal was prepared by Mr Stuart Greenfield in his personal capacity as a member of the public. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Volunteer Firefighters Association (VFFA). The VFFA respects all objective views of NSWRFS members and members of the public, and any views or opinions are not intended to malign any group, club, organisation, company or individual. The VFFA is supportive of open dialogue, full transparency and we encourage others to come forward.

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