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Antarctic Service Medallions - Press Release

PRESS RELEASE FROM SENATOR THE HON. IAN MACDONALD,
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
31ST OCTOBER 1997.
WORTHY RECOGNITION FOR ANTARCTIC EXPEDITIONERS.
 

The Howard Government has announced it will recognise almost 800 Australian Antarctic expeditioners who served Australia with distinction between 1948 and 1972 during wintering expeditions to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic,  Senator Ian Macdonald,  today announced that members of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions  (ANARE)  wintering expeditions (not otherwise awarded) will retrospectively receive the Antarctic Medallion.

The Antarctic Medallion forms part of this nation's Honour system and recognises service in Australia's Antarctic Territory.

"This decision rectifies a long-standing omission and rewards a large group of  proud Australian's for their contribution to science and Australia's Antarctic interests.

It's fitting that the remarkable service these many hundred expeditioners gave Australia in the Antarctic is finally recognised during the year in which the modern Australian Antarctic program celebrates its 50th anniversary"

Senator Macdonald said these expeditions were not officially recognised as they served in Antarctica in the years between 1947-54 and 1959-72 when no awards were issued for Antarctic service.

Prior to 1959 the Imperial Polar Medal was awarded and after 1971 the Antarctic Medallion was issued to all winterers.

"For those individuals who have not yet been officially recognised, I am delighted with the Government's decision to issue the Antarctic Medallion retrospectively.

This decision follows the recent review of the Australian Honours and Awards system, and means all expeditioners from the last 50 years are treated equally".

Senator Macdonald said 980 medals are to be awarded for the 797 Australians who wintered at Mawson,  Davis or Wilkes in years from 1959 to 1967, Heard Island from 1948 to 1954 and Macquarie Island from 1948 to 1972. Many expeditioners served for more that one winter, making them eligible for two or more medallions .

"the hardships of 12 months absence from family in a very remote, harsh and potentially dangerous locations doing vital work in the national interest are recognised by these Awards.

As the Australian Antarctic Division does not have up to date addresses of all past ANARE expeditions, the challenge now is to make sure that all of the people eligible for the service medallions are made aware of their entitlement to this well-deserved recognition.

Expeditioners who believe they are eligible for the medallion are urged to contact my office or the Australian Antarctic Division is Tasmania by writing to Retrospective Medallion Issue,  Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, ph (03) 6232 3209 or fax to (03) 6232 3288. *

* Note current AAD contact detail on Medallion index page