Awards and Decorations - Defence
Force Reserves 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
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),
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