Australian Defence Medal

The Australian Defence Medal recognises Australian Defence Force personnel who have

  • enlisted for an indefinite period and rendered four years qualifying service; or
  • enlisted for a fixed period and completed the specified period of enlistment, or a period of four years, whichever is the lesser.

Qualifying service is counted by enlistment/appointment year - 12 months from your enlistment/appointment date - not calendar or financial year.

Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) is not an initial enlistment period. An AD304 (Acknowledgement of the Requirements of Service in the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army or Royal Australian Air Force) indicates, under Appointment on page 3, the member enlisted for a specific period.

Former members who did not complete the qualifying period may also be eligible if they:

  • died in service;
  • were medically discharged;
  • discharged from service due to a discriminatory Defence policy of the time; or
  • discharged from service as a consequence of mistreatment.

The medal is cupronickel. The obverse has a stylised version of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms as used on the Australia Service Medal 1939-45. This is surrounded by the inscription ‘THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE MEDAL’ above a sprig of wattle.

The reverse has the inscription ‘FOR SERVICE’ below the Crown of St Edward surrounded by two sprays of wattle leaves and blossom.

The ribbon is red with black edges, the colours of the Flanders poppy that represent the Anzac spirit of the Australian armed forces. The white stripes divide the ribbon into three, to denote the three Services and also represent service contributing to the peace of Australia.

Click to download

Australian Defence Medal Regulations 2006 - Amendments of 13 July 2020 (PDF, 183.18 KB)

Click to download

Australian Defence Medal Determination of 16 March 2021 (PDF, 175.37 KB) Australian Defence Medal Determination of 21 July 2021 (PDF, 50.18 KB)

Click to download

Australian Defence Medal Fact Sheet (PDF, 711.69 KB)

What is “Qualifying Service”?

Qualifying service is the number of days of remunerated service required under the Australian Defence Medal Regulations for each enlistment/appointment year in order to successfully achieve the initial enlistment period or four years’ service, whichever is the lesser.

Why can’t I receive my ADM on the 4th anniversary of my enlistment with the ADF?

To qualify for the ADM members must complete the specified amount of qualifying years, which are counted in enlistment years (from the date of enlistment until the anniversary of that date). For a year to be considered as qualifying service you must have served the minimum number of days in that year, and still be employed with one of the three services (Navy, Army or Air Force) on the anniversary of your enlistment. This means that an application for the ADM cannot be recommended for approval until after the qualifying date has passed. Once the qualifying date has passed and your service is assessed, the award of the ADM is placed on a schedule to be recommended for approval by the Governor-General of Australia. Once the Governor-General signs to schedule, the engraving and dispatch of your ADM is arranged. This process can take 6 to 8 weeks.

What if I was terminated before completing the qualifying service period for the ADM due to mistreatment and/or discrimination?

Defence acknowledges that in the past there are members whose service has ceased due to a discriminatory policy of the time, and eligibility to the ADM has been considered in these cases. Amendments to the Regulations have expanded this to include ex-serving members who terminated their service as a consequence of mistreatment, ensuring ADF personnel and veterans are appropriately recognised for their service. Members should apply for the ADM via the Defence Medals Online Application Form, however should note that applications under this condition may have to undergo a formal review, however individuals will be guided through this process by Defence.

How will I receive my ADM if I am eligible?

If you are a current serving member, the ADM will be dispatched to your Unit for presentation. Reserve members can elect to have the ADM presented by their command of command or posted to their home address. The correct address is to be included in the on-line application form. The record of the ADM will appear in PMKeyS prior to actually receiving the medal.

World War II veterans are not eligible for the Australian Defence Medal unless they completed the qualifying service after 3 September 1945. The Australia Service Medal 1939-45 is the Australian award for the recognition of World War II service.