Following the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal’s recent identification of a long history of improper withholding and forfeiture of Defence awards in the Australian Army, the tribunal will now conduct a full inquiry into the matter of refused, withheld and forfeited Defence honours and awards, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, the Hon. Darren Chester MP, announced today.
“I have asked the tribunal to fully investigate the extent to which entitlements for Imperial and Australian Defence honours and awards have been improperly refused, withheld or forfeited, from the beginning of the Second World War until the present day in the Navy, Army and the Air Force, and to formulate recommendations to correct any injustices arising from the improper refusal, withholding or forfeiture of these awards,” Mr Chester said.
“Recent work of the tribunal has indicated that many of the decisions taken to withhold the medallic entitlements of our veterans who served in the Second World War and later conflicts were of doubtful legal validity. I expect the tribunal to report back to Government on the correct and preferable way to address any injustices it encounters in the course of its investigations.”
Mr Chester said that Defence awards in recognition of war service are specially treasured by veterans and their families, and for that reason, it is important to identify ways to restore the entitlements to those who have had their entitlements wrongfully denied.
The tribunal’s inquiry will focus on the practices of the three services and the Department of Defence, and will not specifically report on individual cases. However, veterans and families who may have been affected by the policies of the services and Defence are encouraged to bring their issues to the attention of the tribunal by lodging a submission.
Once the Government considers the tribunal’s findings and directs measures to correct any injustices identified by the tribunal, individuals can then apply to the Department of Defence to have entitlements restored. If those applications are unsuccessful, they could then reapply to the tribunal for further review of their individual circumstances.
Submissions to the inquiry will close on Friday, 28 February 2014.
For more information contact the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal on (02) 6266 3486 or via email at DHA.Tribunal [at] defence.gov.au.
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999