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The Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal.

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I am pleased to announce that, with the approval of Her Majesty The Queen, a new medal in the Australian system of honours and awards to be known as the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal has been created. The government understands that this is the only civilian medal of its type in the world.


Over the last year, from the PNG tsunami to Hurricane Mitch and the current sufferings in Kosovo, Australians have given generously. Moreover, Australians have a proud tradition of not standing idly by when others are struck down by natural or man-made disasters. For some, that involvement has been direct and personal, as ordinary Australians have gone overseas to provide desperately needed assistance to victims often in extraordinary need.


The Medal will honour members of recognised Australian groups which render humanitarian service overseas in hazardous circumstances such as war zones, during peacekeeping operations or in times of natural disaster or civil strife. Australian groups may be part of, or operating under, the direction of the United Nations, other international organisations or Australian or international non-government organisations.


Operations which the government will recommend to the Governor-General for recognition through the Medal include service in the Great Lakes region of Africa (Rwanda and adjacent areas); Somalia; Cambodia and South Vietnam. Other operations including service in the Balkans which has been in crisis since 1991 up to the present Kosovo situation, and recent humanitarian efforts in PNG following natural disasters, are being researched as a priority.


On behalf of the nation and the government, I congratulate those whose dedication in hazardous circumstances to the cause of humanity will be recognised by this distinctive award.



6 June 1999



jy  1999-06-08  12:52