Awards and Decorations - Defence Force Reserves Awards

Awards and Decorations - Defence Force Reserves Awards -
This matter concerns members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve (RANR) (and of course the Army and Air Force Reserves) and was considered by the Navy League of Australia - Victoria Division Committee.
A Service personnel special committee had been formed 1994 to examine the existing awards and it recommended cancellation of Australian Reserve Forces Awards introduced, as a follow-on to the previous awards dating from the turn of the 20th Century. The Fraser Liberal Government had approved these follow on Reserve Force awards in 1982.
To understand the background resulting in the issue of the new Australian Reserve Forces Awards in 1982 it is necessary to go back a few years. A special Reserve Forces Awards committee, comprised of an Army Reserve Brigadier, an Air Force Reserve Squadron Leader and a Royal Australian Naval Reserve Lieutenant-Commander, was formed in the late 1970s to co-ordinate the restoration of the joint UK/AUST traditional Reserve Forces decorations and medals unilaterally dispensed with by the Labor Government's Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in February 1975. These were the RD (Naval Reserve Decoration), ED (Army Efficiency Decoration) and AEA (Air Efficiency Award), LSGCM (Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal).
Many petitions were subsequently received Australia wide from Reserve forces personnel and submitted to both houses of Federal Parliament. Subsequently the Hon. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, acted, seven years later in 1982. All government backbenchers had, for the third time, unanimously supported the Reserves Forces personnel's fight for their own Australian Reserve Forces medals.
In response to these petitions the Hon. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, instituted two new Australian Awards, the:

RFD (Reserve Forces Decoration) and

RFM (Reserve Forces Medal),

to replace the historic joint use of UK/AUST 'Imperial Awards' unilaterally discarded during Gough Whitlam's term of office.
The career uniformed Defence personnel on the 1994 committee incorrectly equated their full time professional service as being identical to that of Reservists arguing that the RFD and RFM are not applicable and that a common award must apply to everyone, 'Permanent' and 'Reserve'. Career Naval & Military personnel arrived at this decision without any real understanding that dedicated Volunteer service of Reservists in support of the Defence of Australia, carried out in their own spare time and as secondary career to their own primary full time professional civil careers was not a comparable situation to the primary career defence force structure.
'Reserve' service, with its fundamental volunteer aspect, is the real reason for the application of the awards, RFD (with post nominals) and RFM, as they provide a tangible Government recognition of volunteer defence service of citizens. These awards served as a tangible recognition and thankyou of the government for the committment to give their spare time to Australia's Defence capability in the form of a voluntary secondary career service.
Regardless of this intent the awards were cancelled with the support of the public service and senior officers in Defence who have actually overturned the decision of parliament in 1982 to award these Australian Awards.
It is clear that the Public Service were jealous of this traditional Reserve award having Post Nominal recognition having gone to great lengths to have their own Public Service Medal placed unjustifyably high in the Australian Awards precedence list. They have always been historically antagonistic towards Defence Reservists.
The action of the Career Defence Force officers is less clear and their action may be the result of the 'Yes Minister' battle field politics. By their actions, the Government and Defence openly declared they had no real understanding of the 'volunteer', second career, aspects of Reserve Service.
To adopt a policy of discouraging reservists by failing to recognise their service in the traditional way, at a time when RAN recruitment is falling is inexplicable.
The Victoria Division strongly supports the immediate reintroduction of the Australian Reserve Forces Awards, with Post Nominals, first introduced in 1982 by the Fraser Government.
Reserve Force Awards were excluded from the twice yearly published Australian awards enabling their deletion to be carried out more effectively.





































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