The Australia Service Medal 1939-1945 was instituted in 1949 to recognise the service of members of the Australian Armed Forces and the Australian Mercantile Marine during World War II. The medal was originally awarded to those who served at home or overseas for at least 18 month full-time service, or three years part-time service, between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. Members of the Australian Mercantile Marine must have served the qualifying time at sea. In 1996 the qualifying time was reduced to 30 days full-time or 90 days part-time service. To be eligible for the medal a serviceman or woman must have been honourably discharged from the Australian Armed Forces.
The medal is nickel silver with the crowned effigy of King George VI on the obverse. The reverse has the Australian coat of arms, placed centrally, surrounded by the words ‘THE AUSTRALIA SERVICE MEDAL 1939-1945.’
The ribbon has a wide khaki central stripe, flanked by two narrow red stripes, which are in turn flanked by two outer stripes, one of dark blue and the other of light blue. The khaki represents the Australian Army, and the red, dark blue and light blue represent the Merchant Navy, Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force respectively.