Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan said today Defence would review the applications it had received for historical cases of former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who had their honours and awards withheld or refused.
The majority of personnel whose medals were withheld or forfeited served during or shortly after World War II.
Mr Tehan said the Government had accepted the first four of five recommendations from the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal report on its Inquiry into the refusal to issue entitlements to, withholding and forfeiture of Defence Honours and Awards.
The Tribunal report investigated the withholding and forfeiture of defence awards for service with the ADF since 1939.
“During World War I and World War II Australians volunteered in great numbers to serve in defence of our country,” Mr Tehan.
“These were ordinary people and the overwhelming majority had no previous experience of military service, yet they were prepared to fight and die for our values.
“The tribunal found that some ADF personnel were not awarded their medals at the end of the war for various reasons, including disobeying routine orders or overstaying time away from their units.
“Service medals are a symbol of a great contribution, they can only be earned. The tribunal heard evidence that some ADF personnel who did not receive their medals were badly affected — some avoided their former comrades and felt excluded from commemorations like Anzac Day. Families also told the tribunal about the impact on them.
“Last year, veterans or the families of deceased veterans who may be eligible for medal restoration were invited to lodge applications for review.
“Defence has received around 100 applications. These reviews will now be progressed. Each application will considered with respect and sensitivity, on a case-by-case basis, supported by a thorough analysis of available evidence and records.
“These cases involve historical decisions related to the medal entitlements of veterans, and each case has specific circumstances that must be taken into consideration as part of Defence’s review and decision-making process.
“Recommendation five remains under consideration, and I will advise of further progress on this matter in 2017.”
The Tribunal’s full report is available at: www.defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au
Byron Vale (Minister Tehan’s Office) 0428 262 894
Defence Media (02) 6127 1999, media [at] defence.gov.au