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The Statutes for the National Medal have been amended on several occasions, most notably in 1982 when the medal was replaced for members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with the Defence Force Service Awards (DFSA). Permanent and part time ADF members remain eligible for the National Medal as a result of full or part time service with other eligible organisations such as the Police Force, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Corrective Services and the Australian Protective Service.
ADF members must have completed 15 years remunerated and efficient service (prior to 20 April 1982) and be serving on or after 14 February 1975. Eligibility for the award of the medal and clasps to ADF members ceased on 19 April 1982 for Defence service.
The medal is bronze. The obverse shows the Arms of the Commonwealth of Australia within a rim carrying the inscription 'THE NATIONAL MEDAL FOR SERVICE'. The reverse is plain.
The ribbon has 15 alternating gold and blue stripes. The colours were the national colours of Australia at the time of introduction.
The clasp to the National Medal is a bronze bar having 10 raised hemispheres.
When the ribbon is worn alone, the award of a clasp is indicated by a ribbon emblem in the form of a representation of the medal. An additional emblem is added for each clasp awarded.
The National Medal is worn in the position notified by the Governor-General in The Order of Wearing Australian Honours and Awards