Military service to your country is a proud achievement. The Australian Government awards medals and honours to signify service and contribution to the nation. Most people wear their medals appropriately, knowing that they have earned them. A minority embellish their service with lies and trinket medals, thinking it will earn them respect. It does not; it diminishes the worth of their real awards. In some cases individuals who have little or no military service infiltrate ex-service organisations with false claims.


When the situation is appropriate, medals awarded to you are worn on your left breast. These include medals issued by the Australian Government and foreign awards authorised by the Governor-General for wearing. They should be worn in the correct order of precedence and not include unauthorised medals. Official state and territory issued medals are worn on the right breast unless authorised by the Governor-General to be included within an approved medal set. Medals issued to another person, worn in commemoration of their service, are worn on the right breast.


Purchased or unofficial commemorative medals, known as tinnies, must not be included with approved medals, and not worn on your left breast at public ceremonial or commemorative events. This also applies to unofficial medals issued by organisations and non-approved foreign medals. A small number of society and organisation issued medals are approved.

Examples of purchased, unofficial medals include:

Regular Forces Medal –  Citizens Military Forces Medal – Commemorative Peace Medal – Active Service Medal – Conscripted Service Medal – General Service Cross  – Atomic Test Medal – Volunteer Service Medal – Vietnam Veterans Medal

Those with unauthorised and non-compliant medals or clasps in their awarded medal group must remove them from the group.


Defence issued badges including the Returned from Active Service Badge, Infantry Combat Badge, Army Combat Badge, Army Individual Readiness Notification Badge, ADF Commendation Badges, Instructor Badges and Unit Citations are worn only by the person entitled to wear them and only when appropriate. Some may only be worn whilst serving and only on the ceremonial uniform. Relatives should not wear them.


If you have given false written and/or verbal statements about your military service you should advise your Association, RSL Sub-Branch committee of the false statements so that records can be corrected. This may be embarrassing but is preferable to being found guilty of a federal offence and fined or being exposed in the media.


It is a federal offence to falsely represent as, or impersonate, a member of the ADF or to falsely wear medals. It is also immoral and an insult to serving and ex-service personnel to misrepresent service. It is not an offence to wear uniforms or medals as part of a dramatic portrayal, such as a film or play, or artistic representation.


Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet Defence Honours & Awards

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One comment

  • Keith Goodwin February 20, 2022  

    Good article re the wearing of Medals.

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