The structure of the Australian Honours and Awards System and the procedures for its administration are closely aligned to those that applied under the Imperial Honours and Awards System. The Sovereign has ultimate authority for the Australian Honours and Awards System. Australia is a Commonwealth member and currently has the status of a constitutional monarchy.

The principal stakeholders in the process of developing and authorising honours and awards are listed below.

The Sovereign

The Sovereign, as Fons Honorum (Font of Honour), is the originating source for all honours and approves all regulations governing Australian awards.

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

The Governor-General, as the Sovereign’s representative, exercises all powers and authorities of the Sovereign in respect of approving and administering awards within the Australian Honours and Awards System, except for approving awards of the Victoria Cross for Australia, which remains with the Sovereign. The Governor-General signs all administrative documents such as Instruments of Declaration and Determination made under relevant medal Regulations.

The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister, through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) maintains technical control of the Australian Honours and Awards System. An Interdepartmental Committee on Defence Honours and Awards is chaired by PM&C and includes representatives from Government House and Defence. Representatives from other departments including Veterans’ Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Federal Police may be present at meetings where issues relevant to these portfolios are on the agenda.

The Minister for Defence (or the Minister’s delegate)

All matters concerning Defence awards are vested in the first place in the Minister for Defence, particularly in relation to honours, decorations and regulatory control for service awards. Accordingly, all recommendations to the Governor-General are made by the Minister for Defence or a delegate acting on behalf of the Minister. The Minister for Defence may also delegate responsibility for the routine day-to-day administration of Defence service awards to a subordinate minister or parliamentary secretary. The Parliament may pass a valid Act directing the Minister to recommend a particular award.

Chief of the Defence Force

The Chief of the Defence Force has an important advisory responsibility and also has some delegated authorities.

Defence Honours and Awards Advisory Group

Since its establishment in 2015, the Defence Honours and Awards Advisory Group has evolved from its primary 'community of interest' role as an advisory group to a consultative and decision-making forum to resolve complex recognition issues within the Defence Honours and Awards system. The group provides a formal mechanism to:

  1. bring new policy or procedures forward
  2. facilitate consultation on proposed changes to established practices or policy
  3. provide an initial forum for the Groups, Services and Commands to raise issues relating to Defence honours and awards policies and processes.