Honouring Australian Defence Force Members Killed-In-Action (KIA)



It's an Honour!

Story-telling has always played an important role in Nation-building and so the story of service and sacrifice is told through the medals of Australian Defence members. There is currently nothing on the member's medals that signify they were Killed-In-Action (KIA). 

The mandate for the commemoration of Defence members service lies with the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) as stated: "To support those who serve or have served in the defence of our nation and commemorate their service and sacrifice." 

We believe, an Australian Defence Force member Killed-In-Action has a moral right to have their story of service and sacrifice fully reflected on their medals. Currently their medals tell the story of where they served (campaign medal), if they served in combat or were recognised for specific service (commendation clasp/medal). Even their longevity is recognised (long service clasps and rosettes). But nothing signifies the conclusion of that service when the member is Killed-In-Action and THAT is significant. 

This campaign therefore, seeks to rectify that oversight. 

'The greatest gift someone can give is their life and acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice is the right thing to do' - the Hon. Luke Gosling, OAM and Member of Parliament.  

If anyone is unsure who these esteemed individuals Killed-In-Action are, then please visit any Australian War Memorial where their names are inscribed. Indeed, a war memorial is a commemorative object intended to remind us of the people who served in and died as a result of war. They remind us of those we have lost to war but we believe that the individual who served in war and was Killed-In-Action should have their sacrifice personally and individually reflected on their service medals, as stated, to actually tell their individual story of great personal sacrifice for the nation.

Why the Wattle? 

It is appropriate to use the national symbol of wattle. Not only is wattle our national floral emblem but it is linked to the Australian Bravery Association, the Order of Australia awards system and the highest office of the land - our Governor General, so it holds an appropriately prestigious place in the life of our nation.  

Why a Black Wattle?

A strip of black material is generally worn around the upper arm as a mark of respect for someone who has recently died. The black wattle infers the same reference of respect. 

Why the Golden text? The golden text was chosen for 'KIA' to distinguish it from other medallic recognition on medals. The design affords the KIA a position of prominence on the member's medal set.

"Regardless of the design, it is support for the principle that must be achieved" - the Hon. Luke Gosling, OAM 

Why is KIA Recognition so important? 

Any symbolic gesture to recognise the ultimate sacrifice of a soldier that is not directly linked to their service medals does not officially complete that soldier's service history. This has real meaning for those still serving since they at least know that in death their individual and personal sacrifice will be concluded and reflected on their medals to tell their story.  

What is the mandate of Defence in this?

The Australian Defence Force does not have a mandate for recognising its members Killed-In-Action because they are no longer serving members. Defence only has two enduring purposes as stated: 1) Defence of Australia and its national interests, and 2) Protect and Advance Australia's strategic interests. 

What about the family?

When a family member wears their loved ones medals on commemorative occasions like ANZAC Day, there is no distinction between the medal sets of a Defence member who has been Killed-In-Action or those who have simply passed away with old age as civilians. Both equally important but distinctly different. That family deserve to have their loved one's story of personal sacrifice and courage told throughout history, long after their own passing. 

Scenario: The story of Australia's Victoria Cross recipient, Cameron Baird, who sacrificed his life for Australia and its people, is a half told story. His medal set fails to reflect that Cameron lost his life in battle. The Victoria Cross tells only part of his story; that he was decorated as "a person who in the presence of the enemy, performed acts of the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty." No where does Cameron's medal set reflect that he was actually Killed-In-Action while facing that enemy. If a member's medals tell the story of where they served or for how long they served and if they served with distinction, the medal set should also reflect the conclusion of that service when the member has been Killed-In-Action, particularly since the member has paid the supreme sacrifice for their country. 

What of the official term KIA?

The terms for Killed-In-Action are clearly defined by NATO and even by the Australian Department of Defence when it lists 'Killed-In-Action" For example; from the Afghanistan campaign Defence states "ADF personnel deployed to Afghanistan killed in action" are http://www.defence.gov.au/operations/afghanistan/...

Defence speaks of a soldier who "tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash". This could be interpreted and retold to give the impression that the soldier died in an accident as opposed to being in a war where he was deliberately targeted by the enemy and killed. Regardless however of how Defence tells a story now, the member's medals do not reflect either account, that the member was killed in war. Who will tell that soldier's story accurately, long after his loved ones have passed and can no longer march in his place in commemorative ceremonies? 

Some argue against KIA recognition, saying it is difficult to determine who was killed on the battlefield or who died of wounds. But Defence already recognises the distinction. A soldier on the Defence Department's website states the soldier "died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in an engagement with insurgents" and is listed as Killed-In-Action on the Afghanistan battle casualties list. The argument is therefore moot.

What about Cost? 

Pledges have been tentatively made to help support associated costs. Families of eligible recipients would submit a request for the KIA clasp administered under the same guidelines that apply for other awards.


Our petition does not seek to solicit funds from the public. 


SIGN THE CHANGE.org PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/honouring-australian-mili...


*This concept is the initiative of WO1 Kerry Danes in honour of his fallen comrades and all those who have served in the Australian Defence Force and who have been Killed-In-Action.  (Other criteria for example; Killed-in-Service, Wounded-in-Action/Service are part of a more detailed brief previously provided to the Government and rejected because a general consensus by government could not be reached. This would incorporate first responders)