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The Victoria Police Valour Award is an in-house decoration the Force awards to its members in recognition of exceptional bravery.

It was introduced in August 1899, in the wake of a much-publicised arrest of two burglars by Sergeant William Rogerson of the Armadale Police. Although severely assaulted by them, Rogerson showed great bravery and stuck to his task in a manner that captured the public imagination. There were many calls for him to be rewarded in some fashion, but at the time there was no official bravery decoration for police.

The immediate problem was solved when officers in the Force took up a collection and paid to have a gold medal specially made. This was presented to Rogerson by Chief Commissioner Chomley at a parade at Russell Street Police Headquarters on 2 August 1899.

That same day Chomley spoke to the Chief Secretary and the Under Secretary about a proposal to introduce a police Valour Badge, and received Government approval to implement the concept.

Initially, retrospective applications were permitted for the Badge. As a result, a number of awards were made for actions that had occurred during the latter years of the 19th Century. The earliest of these was for an incident that occurred in 1874.

The first Valour Badge consisted of the stripe used to mark sub-officer's rank, adapted for the purpose and worn on the upper left arm. A round, silver and blue enamel badge bearing the inscription 'Victoria Police – For Merit', subsequently replaced it in about 1904.

The early 1930s saw the introduction of a pale blue watered ribbon (moiré), from which the badge was suspended. Then, in 1956, a newly-designed Valour Award was introduced. This was in the shape of a cross and bore the words 'Victoria Police Force – For Bravery'. This new design was hung from a blue ribbon.

A Bar to the Valour Award was introduced in 1982, when a member of the Force earned his second Award.

For a short time during and after the First World War a variant of the Valour Badge, a special Gold Medal, was introduced for acts of 'very special bravery'. However, only twenty such medals were ever minted, and once all had been awarded their use was discontinued.

Other Awards

Under the English system of honours and awards that applied at the time the Victoria Police was created on 8 January 1853, there was no official civilian bravery decoration. Even military awards for bravery are of comparatively recent origin under the British system. For example, the Victoria Cross, the premier bravery decoration within the British armed forces, was only introduced in 1856.

The first bravery awards potentially available to Victoria Police members were those introduced by the Royal Humane Society of Australasia in 1874. These were designed to recognise the bravery of persons from all walks of life who risked their own lives in saving, or attempting to save, the lives of others. In theory, policemen could also receive the Albert Medal, which was introduced in 1866 for saving life at sea, and extended in 1877 to saving life on land.

Although these new awards assisted in the recognition of many acts of bravery by police, there was obviously many situations they did not cover, such as the arrest of armed and dangerous offenders. The only recognition a policeman could expect under such circumstances would have been a word of commendation from a Magistrate or Judge, should the case have been taken to Court; a monetary reward from the police reward fund; or a favourable entry on his personnel record by a superior officer.

None of these solutions found favour with members of the Force. For many years suggestions were put forward that the Victoria Police should follow the lead of police forces in the British Isles, and introduce its own bravery award. Thanks largely to the bravery of Sergeant Rogerson, this was finally accomplished under CCP Chomley in 1899.

By a quirk of fate, an Imperial medal for police bravery, the Kings Police Medal, was introduced a mere ten years after the first Valour Badges were awarded. The award seems to have been all but ignored by the Force for many years, which continued to grant its own award in preference to the official award.

Over time, a variety of other civilian awards were introduced, all of which were ultimately replaced by Australian Bravery Decorations. Although members of the Force can and do receive Australian Bravery Awards, the predominant bravery decoration granted to members of the Force remains its own Valour Award.

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