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Bushfire responders now eligible for national emergency medal

Brave emergency services personnel, including volunteers, who directly responded to the 2019-20 bushfires can now be nominated for the National Emergency Medal.

Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson said this includes individuals who responded to the bushfires in City of Ballarat, Golden Plains and the City of Greater Bendigo.

Throughout the 2019-20 bushfire season tragically 17 million hectares were burnt, 3,109 homes were destroyed and 33 people lost their lives.

“The response to the Black Summer bushfires was unprecedented, with thousands of volunteer and paid responders working around the clock, day and night, week after week, to protect property and save lives,” Senator Henderson said.

“On Australia Day, the Prime Minister announced the courage and bravery of our responders would be recognised through the National Emergency Medal. This includes fire, police, ambulance and emergency services volunteers and workers, along with Defence Force personnel.”

The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Government, has now declared the bushfires that occurred between September 2019 and February 2020 in 108 Local Government Areas as a nationally significant emergency for the purpose of the National Emergency Medal.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton said it was important to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts and sacrifice of our emergency services volunteers and personnel.

“It is fitting we honour our emergency service personnel and volunteers for their selflessness, bravery, courage and sacrifice – Australia thanks you for your service,” Mr Morton said.

The National Emergency Medal will be awarded to eligible emergency responders who have given sustained (at least five days) or significant service during the 2019-20 bushfires.

Nominations can come from the deploying organisations or the community. As nominations to receive the award require verification, nominations from deploying organisations are preferred.

The National Emergency Medal, established in 2011, is an operational service medal in the Australian Honours System awarded to first responders to emergencies that are deemed nationally significant. Previously that has included the 2009 Victorian bushfires, and the 2010-11 floods and Cyclone Yasi in Queensland, Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and the 2019 North Queensland Floods.

More information is available at

9 December 2020

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