Official creation of awards

GovernmentIt's an HonourAwards
Friday, July 8, 2016
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

The Australian honours system dates from 1975 when the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations were approved by The Queen.

Since then, new awards have progressively been added to the system. There are a total of 57 awards in the Australian system of honours. 

The Australian honours system dates from 1975 when the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations were approved by The Queen.

New Australian honours are created by The Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Since 1975, new awards have progressively been added to the system. There are a total of 57 awards in the Australian system of honours. 

Why new honours are created 

New honours are created for two reasons:

Longstanding practice has been for the establishment of a new honour in the Australian honours system to require a strong case that national recognition is appropriate and that existing awards do not suffice.

How new honours are created

The process of introducing a new award involves a number of stages:

  • In-principle agreement – when the government decides to seek to create an honour, in-principle agreement is sought from The Queen.
  • Consultation – Government House Canberra, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and other relevant parties agree on factors such as nomination and assessment processes, medal and ribbon design and where the award will appear in the Order of Precedence.
  • Approval - the Letters Patent, Regulations, medal design and Order of Precedence are approved by The Queen.
  • Implementation - contracts are placed for manufacture of the medal and relevant administrative arrangements implemented.

Public announcement 

The Prime Minister generally makes a public announcement following The Queen’s formal approval of an award.
The Letters Patent and the Regulations are then published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.

Letters Patent 

The Letters Patent is the official document issued by The Queen granting the right for a particular award to be instituted.
An example of a Letters Patent issued can be found for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal on the Governor-General’s website.

Regulations 

The Regulations set out the terms and conditions of an award including factors such as medal design and eligibility criteria.
An example of a set of Regulations issued can be found for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal on the Governor-General’s website.

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