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Order of Australia

Approval for the display of information on this website about the Order of Australia from the booklet The Order of Australia, ISBN 0 642 25968 2, © Commonwealth of Australia 1997 was given by the Official Secretary to the Governor-General, Government House, Canberra on 7 March 2000. Also includes amendments up to and including 30 April 2003.

Introduction

The Order of Australia is not established by any Act of Parliament or Ministerial Regulation; rather it was established by Letters Patent issued by Her Majesty the Queen of Australia in 1975 on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Additional information on the Order of Australia, Bravery Awards and other medals can be obtained from the Governor-General of Australia's Website or the Australian Government's It's an Honour page.

There is also The Order of Australia Association which is an association for those who have been appointed to the Order.

This page also contains the initiating Letters Patent of 14 February 1975 together with the most recent Letters Patent of 19 March 2014 (approved by the Queen of Australia) making additional amendments to the Constitution of the Order of Australia and images of the insignia of the Order.

The Consolidated Constitution also contains other amendments which were made by Letters Patent on the dates shown below. Against each date is a summary of the changes made.


Amending Letters Patent
Date
Outline of Changes
24 May 1976
Changed "Civil" Division to "General".
Introduced
Knights (AK), Dames (AD) and Medal.
14 March 1981
Prince Charles is made Knight (AK).
03 March 1986
Removed AK/AD level.
Increased quotas of other levels.
12 April 1988
Increased appointed members on the Council to 15.
Added ACT and NT representation to Council.
01 February 1989
Governor-General is made Chancellor of the Order and Principal Companion in the General Division.
05 December 1991
Altered to reflect self-government in the ACT.
24 February 1993
Medallists of the Order deemed to be members of the Order.
01 August 1996
Varied composition of Council for the Order.
05 March 1998
Varied composition of Council for the Order.
Variations to Military Division.
03 April 2003 Increases the maximum number of recipients in any calendar year for Companions (increase from 25 to 30), Officers (increase from 100 to 125) and Members (increase from 225 to 300) in the General Division.
19 March 2014
Reinstatement of the AK/AD level.

Consolidated Constitution

of the

Order of Australia

(as at 5 March 1998)
spacer
1.

(1) The Order of Australia (hereinafter called "the Order") shall consist of a General Division and a Military Division.

(2) A person appointed to the Order shall be appointed in the General Division or in the Military Division.

(3) Appointments to the Order shall be as Knight or Dame, Companion, Officer, or Member.

(4) There shall be a Medal of the Order called the 'Medal of the Order of Australia'.

(5) Every Australian citizen appointed to the Order or awarded the Medal of the Order is a member of the Order, and every other person appointed to the Order or awarded the Medal of the Order is an honorary member of the Order.



Officers of and Council for the Order of Australia
2.

(1) The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia shall be the Chancellor of the Order and the Principal Knight or Dame, as the case may be, in the General Division.

(2) Where a person ceases to hold office as Governor-General, he or she shall continue to be a member of the Order in the General Division in the class of membership that he or she held immediately before ceasing to hold that office

2A.

(1) The Governor-General shall have precedence, after the Sovereign, of all other members of the Order.

(2) His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, shall have precedence in the Order immediately after the Governor-General.

3. The Chancellor is charged with the administration of the Order.
4.

(1) There shall be a Council for the Order, hereinafter called "the Council" which shall consist of-

(a) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

(b) the Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council;

(c) the person for the time being occupying, or performing the duties of, the office prescribed for the purposes of this paragraph by the Minister responsible for the administration of the Australian honours system or any Minister or member of the Executive Council acting for or on behalf of that Minister; and

(d) the person for the time being occupying the office of Chief of the Defence Force or, if another office is prescribed for the purpose of this paragraph, the person occupying the office so prescribed; and

(e) 16 persons appointed by the Governor-General, of whom:

(i) 8 shall be nominated by the Prime Minister; and

(ii) one shall be nominated by the State of New South Wales; and

(iii) one shall be nominated by the State of Victoria; and

(iv) one shall be nominated by the State of Queensland; and

(v) one shall be nominated by the State of Western Australia; and

(vi) one shall be nominated by the State of South Australia; and

(vii) one shall be nominated by the State of Tasmania; and

(viii) one shall be nominated by the Northern Territory of Australia; and

(ix) one shall be nominated by the Australian Capital Territory.

(2) A member of the Council referred to in paragraph (1) (e) shall hold office for a period of two years from the date of appointment and is eligible for reappointment.

(3) The Governor-General shall :

(a) on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, appoint one of the members appointed under subparagraph (1) (e) (i) to be Chairman of the Council; and

(b) in the event of the Chairman being unavailable to act in the office, appoint another member appointed under subparagraph (1) (e) (i) to act as the Chairman of the Council.

(4) If a member of the Council is absent or unable to act in that capacity, the member may be represented on the Council:

(a) if the member is the Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council - by another member of the Federal Executive Council under summons chosen, in accordance with arrangements made by the Governor-General, to act in the member's place as a member of the Council; or

(b) if the member is a member referred to in paragraph (1) (c) or (d) or subparagraph (1) (e) (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii) or (ix) - by a chosen person, in accordance with arrangements made by the Governor-General, to act in the member's place as a member of the Council

5.

The Council shall -

(a) consider nominations of Australian citizens for appointment to the Order as Companion, Officer or Member and for the award of the Medal of the Order;

(b) make recommendations to the Governor-General in relation to those nominations; and

(c) advise the Governor-General on such other matters concerning the Order as the Governor-General may refer to the Council for consideration.

5A.

(1) 10 members of the Council constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the Council.

(2) In this section, 'Member of the Council' includes a person chosen to act, under subsection 4 (4), in the place of a member mentioned in paragraph 4 (1) (b), (c), (d) or (e).

6.

(1) There shall be a Secretary of the Order who shall be appointed by the Governor-General.

(2) The Secretary shall maintain the records of the Order and of the Council and shall perform such other functions in respect of the Order as the Governor-General directs.

7. The Governor-General may appoint such other officials for the Order as are, in the Governor-General's sole discretion, considered to be necessary for the purpose.
8.
A person is not a member of the Order by reason only of that person being a member of the Council or an official of the Order.



Appointments and Awards

8A. Appointments (including honorary appointments) to the Order as Knight or Dame shall be made, with the approval of the Sovereign on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, by Instrument signed by the Governor-General and sealed with the seal of the Order.
9. Appointments (including honorary appointments) to the Order, as Companion, Officer or Member and awards of the Medal of the Order shall be made, with the approval of The Sovereign, by Instrument signed by the Governor-General and sealed with the Seal of the Order.
10. Nothing in this Constitution limits the right of the Governor-General to exercise all powers and authorities of The Sovereign in respect of the Order.



General Division

Eligibility for Appointment

11.

(1) Australian citizens including members of the Defence Force, are eligible to be appointed to the Order as members in the General Division.

(2) Persons other than Australian citizens are eligible to be appointed to the Order as honorary members in the General Division.

(3) The Medal of the Order in the General Division may be awarded to Australian citizens and other persons.

 

Order of Australia - Knights and Dames in the General Division

11A.

(1) Appointments as Knights or Dames, or honorary Knights or Dames, in the General Division shall be made for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia or to humanity at large.

(2) Notwhithstanding subsection (1), a distinguished person who is not an Australian citizen may be appointed as an honorary Knight or Dame in the General Division where it is desirable that the person be honoured by Australia.

11B. The Governor-General may appoint to be Knights and Dames in the General Division, other than honorary Knights and Dames, not more than four persons in any calendar year.


Order of Australia - Companions in the General Division
12.

(1) Appointments as Companions or honorary Companions in the General Division shall be made for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large.

(2) Notwithstanding sub-section (1), a distinguished person who is not an Australian citizen may be appointed an honorary Companion in the General Division where it is desirable that the person be honoured by Australia.

13. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
14. The Governor-General may appoint to be Companions in the General Division, other than honorary Companions, not more than 30 persons in any calendar year.


Order of Australia - Officers in the General Division
15.

(1) Appointments as Officers or honorary Officers in the General Division shall be made for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large.

(2) Notwithstanding sub-section (1), a distinguished person who is not an Australian citizen may be appointed an honorary Officer in the General Division where it is desirable that the person be honoured by Australia.

16. The Governor-General may appoint to be Officers in the General Division, other than honorary Officers, not more than 125 persons in any calendar year.


Order of Australia - Members in the General Division
17.

(1) Appointments as Members or honorary Members in the General Division may be made for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group.

(2) Notwithstanding sub-section (1), a person who is not an Australian citizen may be appointed an honorary Member in the General Division where it is desirable that the person be honoured by Australia.

18. The Governor-General may appoint to be Members in the General Division, other than honorary Members, not more than 300 persons in any calendar year.


Medal of the Order of Australia - Awards in the General Division
18A. Awards of the Medal of the Order in the General Division may be made for service worthy of particular recognition.


Nominations
19.

(1) Any person or organisation may submit to the Secretary of the Order for consideration by the Council a nomination of an Australian citizen for appointment to the Order as a member in the General Division, or a nomination of a person for the award of the Medal of the Order in the General Division.

(1A) Subsection (1) does not apply to appointments to the Order as Knight or Dame.

(2) Upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, appointments to the Order as honorary members in the General Division may be made by the Governor-General.



Military Division

Eligibility for Appointment

20.

(1) The following are eligible to be appointed to the order as members in the Military Division:

(a) members of the Defence Force; and

(b) former members of the Defence Force whose Defence Force service has ceased for not more than one year; and

(c) other persons determined by the Minister for Defence for the purposes of this paragraph.

(2) Members of the armed forces of a country other than Australia are eligible to be appointed to the Order as honorary members in the Military Division.

(3) In any calendar year, the number of appointments, other than honorary appointments, to the Military Division, shall not exceed one-tenth of one per cent of the average number of persons who were members of the Defence Force on each day of the immediately preceding year.

(4) The Medal of the Order in the Military Division may be awarded to:

(a) members of the Defence Force; and

(b) former members of the Defence Force whose Defence Force service has ceased for not more than one year; and

(c) other persons determined by the Minister for Defence for the purposes of this paragraph.



Order of Australia - Companions in the Military Division
21.

(1) Appointments as Companions or honorary Companions in the Military Division shall be made for eminent service in duties of great responsibility.

(2) The Governor-General may, in any calendar year, appoint as Companions in the Military Division, other than honorary Companions, a number of persons that is not greater than the number of persons that most closely approximates to five per cent of the total number of persons who may be appointed under sub-section 20 (3) to all categories of membership, other than honorary membership, in the Military Division in that year.



Order of Australia - Officers in the Military Division
22.

(1) Appointments as Officers or honorary Officers in the Military Division shall be made for distinguished service in responsible positions.

(2) The Governor-General may, in any calendar year, appoint as Officers in the Military Division, other than honorary Officers, a number of persons that is not greater than the number of persons that most closely approximates to twenty per cent of the total number of persons who may be appointed under sub-section 20 (3) to all categories of membership, other than honorary membership, in the Military Division in that year.



Order of Australia - Members in the Military Division
23. Appointments as Members or honorary Members in the Military Division may be made for exceptional service or performance of duty.


Medal of the Order of Australia - Awards in the Military Division
23A. Awards of the Medal of the Order in the Military Division may be made for meritorious service or performance of duty.


Nominations
24.

(1) Upon the recommendation of the Minister for Defence, appointments to the Order as members in the Military Division and awards of the Medal of the Order in the Military Division may be made by the Governor-General.

(2) Upon the recommendation of the Minister for Defence, appointments to the Order as honorary members in the Military Division may be made by the Governor-General.



Termination of Membership in the Order

and

Cancellation of an Award of the Medal

25.

(1) A person does not cease to be a member or honorary member of the Order by reason only of that person ceasing to be eligible to be appointed to the Order or to be awarded the Medal of the Order.

(2) A person ceases to be a member or honorary member of the Order upon -

(a) the death of the person;

(b) the resignation of the person from the Order in writing, which resignation shall have effect from the day on which it is accepted by the Governor-General;

(c) the termination of the appointment of the person to the Order by Ordinance; or

(d) the cancellation of the award to the person of the Medal of the Order by Ordinance.

(3) An appointment that has been terminated, or an award of the Medal of the Order that has been cancelled, may be restored by Ordinance.

26. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Insignia
(View Insignia)
27. When worn in Australia by an Australian citizen, the insignia of the Order shall be worn in the prescribed manner.
28.

(1) Except as otherwise provided by Ordinance, the insignia of the Order shall remain the property of the Order.

(2) Where a person ceases, otherwise than by death, to be a member of the Order, that person shall forthwith return to the Secretary of the Order the insignia of the Order.



Seal
29. The Governor-General shall have the custody of the Seal of the Order.


Ordinances of the Order
(Note: Ordinances are detailed here)
30.

The Governor-General may make Ordinances, not inconsistent with this Constitution, prescribing all matters that are required or permitted by this Constitution to be prescribed, or necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Constitution and, in particular, prescribing matters for:

(a) the government of the Order;

(b) the insignia of the Order;

(c) the designations of members of the Order and persons who have been awarded the Medal of the Order; and

(d) investitures; and

(e) terminations and cancellations.




Knight and Dame Level

This level within the Order was instituted by amending Letters Patent signed by The Queen dated 24 May 1976 on the recommendation of the then Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser, CH, MP.

The "Knight/Dame" level was removed from the Order, but without prejudice to those who had already been recognized at this level, on 3 March 1986 when The Queen signed further amending Letters Patent on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of the Day, the Honourable Bob Hawke, AC, MP.

On 19 March 2014, The "Knight/Dame" level was reinstated by Letters Patent signed by the Queen of Australia on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, The Honourable Tony Abbott.

There have been thirteen Knights and three Dames appointed to the Order, in date order as follows:

Date
Name of Recipient
24 May 1976
The Rt Hon Sir John Kerr AK GCMG GCVO
12 June 1976
The Rt Hon Sir Robert Menzies KT AK CH
11 June 1977
Sir Colin Syme AK
08 December 1977
The Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO
26 January 1978
Sir MacFarlane Burnet OM AK KBE
03 June 1978
Dame Alexandra Hasluck AD
26 January 1980
Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE
14 March 1981*
His Royal Highness Prince Charles KG KT GCB AK
07 April 1981
Sir Roden Cutler VC AK KCMG KCVO CBE
13 June 1981
The Rt Hon Sir Garfield Barwick AK GCMG
12 June 1982 The Hon Sir Charles Court AK KCMG OBE
29 July 1982 The Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE
26 January 1983 Sir Douglas Wright AK
11 June 1983 Sir Gordon Jackson AK
28 March 2014 The Hon Dame Quentin Bryce, AD, CVO
28 March 2014 General The Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK, MC
* Charles, Prince of Wales is a full member in the General Division, NOT an honorary appointment. To overcome the citizenship situation his appointment was created by amendment to the Constitution of the Order of Australia by special Letters Patent signed by The Queen on 14 March 1981.



The initiating Letters Patent
(Only part of schedule shown)


The Most Recent Letters Patent (19 March 2014)
Click here to download the amending letters patent of 19 March 2014



INSIGNIA OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Queen of Australia and
Sovereign of the Order of Australia
Sovereign's Badge

Chancellor's Badge
(Governor-General)
Knight or Dame of the Order
(AK or AD)

Companion of the Order (AC)
General Division
Companion of the Order (AC)
Military Division

Officer of the Order (AO)
General Division
Officer of the Order (AO)
Military Division

Member of the Order (AM)
General Division
Member of the Order (AM)
Military Division

Medal of the Order (OAM)
General Division
Medal of the Order (OAM)
Military Division