Nominations are now open for the 2021 Australian Search and Rescue Award.

Nominations can be emailed to the NATSAR Council Secretariat by 10 July 2021.

Recipients will be announced at the 45th NATSAR Council meeting in 2021.

Make a submission

Award criteria 

These prestigious awards are in recognition of outstanding contribution to search and rescue within the Australian region during the period 1 July – 30 June.

The awards are open to individuals, groups or organisations that have made a significant contribution to search and rescue in Australia and deserve recognition at a national level.

Any person or organisation can nominate candidates for the Australian SAR Awards by completing the official nomination form.

History of the awards

Awarded first in 1996, the inaugural winners being Senior Constable Aherne, Senior Constable Griffiths and MICA Officer Lamb of the Victorian Police Air Wing for their efforts in the rescue of three men stranded on a sinking trawler in Bass Strait on 23 August 1995.

In the same year two Highly Commended Awards were presented to Mr Kevin Bald for his efforts in the rescue of a man off Kangaroo Island and to Sergeant Richard Mostard of the Bairnsdale Water Police, Victoria for the rescue of a person from an upturned trimaran south east of Gabo Island.

Award categories

To recognise the importance of both professionals and non-professionals within the search and rescue system, the following categories are available for the SAR Awards:

  • Professional—an individual or organisation with the SAR field that has been trained within the search and rescue field or work professionally in a search and rescue role. For example, this includes police officers, rescue aircraft crew, volunteer marine rescue members, and so on.
  • Non-professional—a individual, group or organisation that has not been trained in the search and rescue field but has been involved in a search and rescue operation. For example, this may include fellow hikers, a passer-by or surfers that may have assisted in a search and rescue operation.
  • Long-standing contribution to SAR—an individual, group or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian SAR system, over an extended period of time.
2020 recipients

The National Search and Rescue Council’s Australian Search and Rescue Awards are presented by the NATSAR Council in recognition of outstanding contribution to search and rescue within the Australian region.

This year’s awards recognise 13 recipients who were instrumental in saving the lives of many people, conducting dangerous operations or contributing to search and rescue over their extended careers.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said it was a great honour to present the awards to recognise the brave actions of the recipients. Read the media release by the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.

Bullimore swims out from under the hull
NATSAR winners of professional award
Professional search and rescue award 2020

Western Australian search and rescue dive team. Team members: Sergeant Bradley Bell, Senior Constable Alan Trist, Senior Constable Christopher Jacob, Senior Constable Luke McCulloch, Ashley Skinner (Esperance Marine Rescue), David Macmahon (Esperance Surf Life Saving), Jacob Oversby (Esperance Surf Life Saving).

The dive team showed remarkable endurance and commitment to their role in responding to multiple consecutive marine incidents across the state of Western Australia.

The WA Police would like to acknowledge all volunteer efforts involved in their busy search and rescue season. Although not everyone can be acknowledge for this award, the efforts of the dive team is testament to the collaborative and cooperative nature of the overall national SAR system.

Professional commendation award 2020

‘Westpac 1’ Rescue Helicopter Crew. Team members: Graeme Anderson (Helicopter Pilot), Sean Flanagan (Air Crewman Officer), Sean Vallance (NSW Ambulance paramedic), Tim Starkey (NSW Health Doctor)

The crew of Westpac 1 showed exceptional skill and teamwork during an incident involving challenging conditions, which were above and beyond most search and rescue taskings. The professionalism and dedication of the well-planned and highly trained crew enabled the successful rescue of two lives.

westpac one
Bill Fodder
Long-standing contribution to search and rescue award 2020

William (Bill) Folder, Tasmanian State Emergency Service.

Bill has played an instrumental role as a volunteer with the TAS SES since 1977. Bill has been involved in many Search and Rescue operations over the years, tirelessly working to save lives, and is an extremely worthy candidate for the National Long-standing contribution to Search and Rescue Award.

Long-standing contribution to search and rescue commendation

Tony Clitheroe, Rockingham Volunteer Marine Rescue, WA.

Anthony (Tony) Clitheroe’s passion for the ocean has driven his dedication to the Volunteer Marine Rescue at Rockingham, WA. Tony is the VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) Communications Officer and conducts radio support to rescue vessels, monitoring these vessels which they are conducting search operations. The role includes extensive after-hours callouts.