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The words .."awarded for gallantry.."  in the introductory paragraph to Section 102(5)(a) of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) have created a few problems recently in the way they are being interpreted both by Departmental staff and by the veteran community.  The purpose of this Departmental Instruction is to detail the correct policy interpretation of this point at issue, and to explain when payment of the allowance should commence.

The words in question have been taken to mean on the one hand that the citation for the medal must be sighted to determine that the medal was awarded for gallantry, while on the other hand to mean that the citation does not have to be sighted as the words indicate that all of the medals listed are only awarded for gallantry.  With some exceptions, the latter interpretation is correct.

The following decorations are only awarded for gallantry and therefore, once it is ascertained from service records that a medal was awarded during a war to which the VEA applies or during warlike operations, decoration allowance can be paid to an eligible veteran without any further check of the citation:

  • the Victoria Cross,

  • the Distinguished Service Order,

  • the Distinguished Service Cross,

  • the Military Cross,

  • the Distinguished Flying Cross,

  • the Distinguished Conduct Medal,

  • the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal,

  • the Distinguished Service Medal,

  • the Military Medal,

  • the Distinguished Flying Medal

  • the George Cross, and

  • the George Medal.

The following decorations are gallantry awards but only in vary rare cases are they awarded during a war to which the VEA applies or during warlike operations and consequently, further checks must be made:

  • the Cross of Valour, and

  • the Star of Courage.

The following decorations may not have been awarded for gallantry and/or they may not have been awarded during a war to which the VEA applies or during warlike operations and consequently, further checks must be made:

  • the member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division), and

  • the British Empire Medal (Note:  This medal was prescribed as an eligible decoration by Regulation 6A which was inserted in the VEA Regulations in 1991)

The majority of these latter awards were made for meritorious conduct/service rather than for gallantry.  From 1958, the Gazette notice clearly indicates that the recipient of the decoration was entitled to wear the Emblem for Gallantry.  Before 1958, the citation will need to be checked for the circumstances leading to the award.  In this event, an award for gallantry will focus on one or two incidents with the date and place of the incident clearly indicating gallant rather than meritorious conduct/service.

Commencement Date for Payment of Decoration Allowance

Decoration Allowance can only be paid from the date of effect of the payment of disability pension, or when the veteran became eligible for the decoration, or when the decoration was included in legislation, whichever is the later date.  As the Commonwealth Government introduced Decoration Allowance in 1943, this is the earliest date that the allowance can be paid from.  The following is a list of the decorations awarded for gallantry during a war to which this Act applies or during warlike operations together with the earliest date that the medal was included in legislation:

  • the Victoria Cross17 Sep 1943

  • the Distinguished Conduct Medal17 Sep 1943

  • the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal17 Sep 1943

  • the Military Medal17 Sep 1943

  • the Distinguished Flying Medal17 Sep 1943

  • the George Cross17 Sep 1943

  • the Distinguished Service Order30 May 1975

  • the Distinguished Service Cross; 30 May 1975

  • the Military Cross30 May 1975

  • the Distinguished Flying Cross30 May 1975

  • the George Medal30 May 1975

  • the Cross of Valour22 May 1986

  • the Star of Courage22 May 1986

  • the Distinguished Service Medal22 May 1986

  • the member of the Most Excellent Order

of the British Empire (Military Division)16 Dec 1987

  • the British Empire Medal6 Mar 1991

Staff are to ensure that Decoration Allowance is processed in accordance with these interpretations.

Please note that a full review of the Decoration Allowance is being undertaken by the Compensation and Review Branch in National Office.  Your views will be sought in due course on operational aspects of policy and their interpretation before any submission is put to Commission.