Secretary, ADFTWDA, PO BOX 302, Coorparoo Qld 4151

Phone: 07 3324 8958    Mobile: 0428 554 008    Email:



Terms of Reference

For the Issue of Medals and Medal Ribbons

To Military Working Dogs and non-ADF Service Dogs Definitions


  • Military Working Dog. This is a dog working in a military establishment.
  • Service Dog. This is a dog working in a government department, agency or commercial entity where its primary function is the protection of Federal and/or State laws.
  • Non ADF organisations are required to contribute to the cost of any Medals issued to their organisation or agency. The cost is $60 per Medal which includes engraving, packaging & delivery. This is effective from the 21st November 2013

Purpose of these Terms of Reference

  • These Terms of Reference (TOR) are issued to establish the criteria for the issue of medals and medal ribbons to Military Working Dogs (MWD), and service dogs working for non-ADF government departments and agencies. The medals and medal ribbons are issued under the auspices of the Australian Defence Force Trackers and War Dogs Association Inc (ADFTWDA).
  • These TOR are not absolute. They may be amended to suit the methods of operation of individual military units, government departments and agencies.

Reason for the raising of these TOR

  • The ADFTWDA believes that MWD are canine soldiers. MWD are recruited, trained, fed, housed, cared for and transported by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as an integral part of security duties assigned to their parent units. When MWD are posted into combat environments by the ADF, operate as canine support elements to Australian combatants in the field, and are exposed to the same dangers, hardships and privations as ADF combat soldiers, their service should be recognised with the issue of a service medal and medal ribbon which demonstrates their contribution to Australia’s defence interests.
  • MWD employed in Australia undertaking duties in the defence and protection of this nation’s people and our national assets are also accepted by the ADFTWDA as serving a purpose which should be recognised by the issue of a service medal and ribbon.
  • The ADFTWDA recognises that MWD are not capable of perceiving why the medals and medal ribbons have been issued to them. This is not the purpose of this TOR. The purpose for the issue of medals and medal ribbons is so that the MWD handlers and units can affirm their job satisfaction in respect of having produced and operated MWD in support of Australia’s security interests.
  • The Directorate of Honours and Awards in the Department of Defence has clearly described why the ADF can not issue medals or medal ribbons to MWD. A letter detailing this is available from the President or Secretary ADFTWDA. In that letter, the Directorate of Honours and Awards has suggested that the ADFTWDA may design its own medals and medal ribbons for issue to MWD. The letter states – inter alia- “If your Association wishes to issue medals to dogs, there is nothing to stop your Association from establishing its own medals and offering them to the relevant sections of the ADF for wear by MWD. It must be understood that any such medals and ribbons would have to be designed in such a way as to not be capable of being mistaken in any way for the official awards of the Australian Honours and Awards System”.
  • Service dogs working in government departments and agencies are to be treated with the same honour as MWD. This includes commercial dog agencies which provide dogs on contract for government duty.

Executive Statement

  • The ADFTWDA has designed two distinctive medals with their own discrete medal ribbons for issue to MWD, subject to an agreement for their issue by MWD unit commanders and government agency heads. There are to be two types of medals and ribbons. These are:

                 (a) The War Dog Operational Medal. This is issued for operational duty in a Theatre of War or Operational Area (AO), under the criteria given below. A clasp is to be issued designating the appropriate AO in which the MWD operated eg “Afghanistan”, “East Timor” etc.

                 (b) The Canine Service Medal. This is issued for non-operational service under the criteria given below.


The following criteria are to apply for the issue of the War Dog Operational Medal and its associated medal ribbon to a MWD or service dog:

  • The dog has completed successfully, a full set of militarily accredited courses which enable it to be employed as a “forward everywhere” resource (i.e. it is not a unit pet or mascot), of the ADF, and has served in an area prescribed by the ADF as a Theatre of War or an Area of Operations (AO), for a period of not less than twenty-eight (28) days. Should the MWD become a casualty of any kind and is not able to complete the 28 day eligibility period, it is entitled to the issue of the War Dog Operational Medal, ribbon and clasp.
  • The dog has been placed on, or has served in, a military unit’s establishment and at public expense, draws rations, is accommodated, has the opportunity to receive veterinary care, and is transported by any means of military or other logistic resource, as is made available to the dog’s handler (an Australian combatant).
  • The dog is accounted for on a daily basis in a roll book, or other data recording device, and has been allocated a Department of Defence service number and name in order to track the dogs total service history from recruitment to separation from service.
  • The dog has a service of record which is maintained under the provisions for record keeping by the Department of Defence.

The following criteria is to apply for the issue of the Canine Service Medal and its associated ribbon to a MWD or service dog:

  • The dog has undertaken all of the requirements as stated in paragraph 8 above but has not served in an area prescribed by the ADF as a Theatre of War or an AO as described in paragraph 8 a above.
  • The dog has been employed in the duties for which it has been trained on a continuous basis for a period of not less than five (5) years.

Basis of Issue of the ADFTWDA Dog Medal

  • The ADFTWDA is to undertake due diligence processing to ensure that a MWD or service dog satisfies the above criteria before any action for the issue of a medal is undertaken. This processing must include the MWD’s unit Commander’s concurrence to proceed with action to issue the MWD with a service medal. Due diligence must include all the criteria detailed above. Due diligence for the issue of a ADFTWDA medal can be initiated by any of the following circumstances:

        An application in writing including IT communication, signed and submitted to the ADFTWDA by any of the following personnel:

  • The dog’s handler;
  • The MWD’s or service dog’s unit Commanding Officer or Officer Commanding or agency manager;
  • A person nominated by the ADF as being a competent authority on the service history of the MWD or service dog;
  • A person nominated by a member of the ADFTWDA as being a competent authority on the service history of the MWD or service dog;
  • Any person who can satisfy the President of the ADFTWDA that they are a competent authority on the service history of the MWD or service dog.

        A MWD or Service Dog may receive one War Dog Operational Medal and one Canine Service Medal and their associated ribbons and clasps for recognition of service with the ADF, government department or agency.

Ownership of ADFTWDA Dog Medals

  • The ADFTWDA dog medals will always remain the property of the ADFTWDA. However, once a MWD or service dog medal is issued, the MWD’s unit or government department or agency can retain indefinite possession of it, including after the time the MWD has separated from service. The medal may be displayed in whatever dignified way the unit, department or agency desires to display it.
  • In the event that the MWD or service dog medal is no longer required by the MWD’s or service dog’s unit, department or agency, the medal must be returned to the ADFTWDA for permanent storage at the Association’s discretion.
  • Individuals may purchase ADFTWDA medals as replicas. The cost and supply will be advertised on the ADFTWDA website.

Presentation of the ADFTWDA Dog Medal

  • Wherever possible, the ADFTWDA would appreciate that the medal be issued to the MWD or service dog in a dignified ceremony. The ADFTWDA would appreciate that at least one member of the ADFTWDA management team be invited to that ceremony.

Design of ADFTWDA Dog Medals

  • The design of the medals, medal ribbons and clasp(s) will be at the discretion of the ADFTWDA. Any subsequent modifications or changes of ADFTWDA dog medals is to be approved by the management committee of the ADFTWDA at a formal meeting designed to approve the medal or any changes to its design. The current design of the medals and their associated ribbons are given below.
  • The cost of the medal is to be borne by the ADFTWDA, albeit donations and financial assistance may be called by the Association for the payment of acquisition costs, fees, commissions and any other cost associated with the production of the medals, ribbons and clasps.

Awards for Conspicuous Bravery by a MWD

  • We, the ADFTWDA have initiated a request to introduce a Conspicuous service award for Australian Military Working Dogs and this is the subject of ongoing interest with the Chief of Defence Force. The ADFTWDA was approached by members of the ADF MWD community to initiate a bravery and exceptional service medal/cross to cover Australian MWD. We did that in September 2015 and we currently await the outcome of our initiative. Should an official MWD medal platform become established, the ADFTWDA will comply with that in collaboration with the ADF.