These prestigious awards are in recognition of outstanding contribution to search and rescue within the Australian region during the previous financial year.
The awards and commendations recognise 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 NATSAR Awards by completing the official nomination form. Nominations for the 2024-24 awards will open in early 2024.
Awarded first in 1996, the inaugural winners being Senior Constable Aherne, Senior Constable Griffiths and Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (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 Highly Commended Awards were presented to 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.
To recognise the importance of both professionals and non-professionals within the search and rescue system, the following categories are available for the NATSAR Awards:
- Professional—an individual or organisation 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, etc.
- 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 or incident.
- Long-standing contribution to search and rescue—an individual, group or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian search and rescue system, over an extended period of time.