Operation Bursa Recognition

Operation Bursa was the training and maintenance of a counter-terrorism capability to protect the oil and gas platforms in Bass Strait, which commenced in 1980.  

Navy provided air support to Special Forces (SF) operations from the commencement of Op Bursa, until the task was handed over to Army Aviation in 1990.  

This web page gives readers background information, advice on eligibility of FAA veterans and the process of applying for the award.

Background

In March 2011, the Governor General approved the award of the Australian Service Medal with clasp Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery (ASM-CT/SR) for designated Special Forces personnel engaged in Operation Bursa.  This also included Army Aviation personnel in support of SF activity.

Requests to have Navy personnel included under the same guidelines as Army Aviation were denied.  To address this inequity, a small group of dedicated personnel, including CDRE Brett Dowsing and the late CMDR Ted Wynberg, set about establishing criteria which could validate the award for Navy.  This was ultimately successful, with approval finally signed in October 2020.

Eligibility 

The eligibility requirements include Navy personnel, or allied foreign Defence Force members, who:

  1. served 60 consecutive or more days on Operation Bursa (a member who did not complete 60 consecutive days due to death, illness, injury or disability due to service in Op Bursa will be deemed to have completed 60 days)
  2. have not been awarded another medal for operational service over the same period;
  3. were qualified on aircraft type (Wessex 31B or SK-50A/B);
  4. were posted to one or more of the following Squadrons during the periods designated:
    • HC723 Squadron (1Aug80 to 9Feb84)
    • HU816 Squadron (9Feb84 to 1Nov86)
    • HS817 Squadron (1Nov86 to 31Dec89)

The 60 consecutive days qualifying period includes deployment, training and while on a reduced Notice-To-Move (NTM) (generally less than four hours) in support of Op Bursa. This award includes all personnel who meet the eligibility criteria.

Periods attached to a ship’s Flight, deep maintenance units not on a reduced NTM, or while on course are NOT counted in the qualifying requirements. 

You can read the relevant Regulation here

How To Apply 

You will need to apply for this Award, if you believe you are eligible.  

The previous on-line form at this website is no longer available. 

Applications must be made by downloading the .pdf form from here, filling it out manually and scanning/emailing it to the Op. Bursa recognition team at op.bursa@defence.gov.au.  If you prefer you can post it to the address given on the form.  In either case your application must contain the form and supporting documentation. 

Before you do that please read this page carefully and gather your evidentiary documentation to attach to your application. 

Verifiable evidence is essential for the processing of any application in order to maintain the integrity of the Honours and Awards system. Applicants are required to provide evidentiary documentation which will show:

  1. Qualification in role (qualified as aircrew in the CT role or qualified to maintain the designated aircraft), and
  2. Posting dates to the designated unit.

To expedite the Awards as much as possible, submissions will be processed in batches rather than as a “job lot”.

Documentation Requirements

The following types of personal documentation are to be provided with your emailed/posted application to support your claim:

Aircrew.  Scans/photos of Flying Log Book pages (Section numbers relate to the old log book):

  • Certificates of Qualification in Role (Section 1)
  • Record of Service (Section 8)
  • A selection of flying log entries (Section 5)
    • These should include months where Op Bursa exercises occurred, but also months near the start and end of your Op Bursa time (no more than 6 double page monthly entries are necessary)
    • Copies must include the Date (Column 1) and mission details column as below:
      • Column 21 (Remarks) in the Observer/Aircrewman log book,
      • Column 6 (Duty) in the Pilot log book

Column 1 and column 21 cannot be scanned simultaneously with a standard A4 scanner as they are at opposite ends of the double page.  If using an A4 scanner (rather than photographing the pages), scan the left hand page then the right hand page.  The hours on the left page and right page generally allow matching up of the two scans, but for ease, put a sticky note on the page before scanning (eg 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, etc).

Maintainers.  Scans of any suitable documentation such as Record of Training and Employment and posting record that indicates qualification and employment on the aircraft type while engaged in Op. Bursa, over the period that complies with the qualification requirement.

Due to the period of time under consideration, Navy records may not be readily accessible or contain the required detail, so it is necessary to rely on personal records in the first instance.  This information will be cross-referenced with any available Navy records. In cases where you don’t have personal records, contact the project team to seek advice.

If you need to access your old records from Defence, email ADF.Records@defence.gov.au with your request.

Quality of scans/photos.  A number of applicants have sent scans/photos that are unreadable.  This has resulted in delays in processing their application as they have had to resubmit (sometimes on multiple occasions) until a version that can be read by the Team is received.  For photos in particular, DO NOT send LO-RES photos.

If your documentation is a very large file, you may need to break it up into multiple emails no larger than 5Mb to prevent the Defence firewall stripping off the attachments.  The Defence firewall also prevents access to cloud storage, so do not send links.

Process timeline

Applications are vetted by the Op Bursa Team and then forwarded to Navy Honours and Awards in batches.  These are then sent to the Directorate of Honours and Awards for final processing, preparation of the documentation for the Governor General’s signature, then sent to the engraver.  Those personnel who have received email notification that their application has been “received and registered” or similar words, will be in one of the following batches:

  • Batch 1 – notified before 19 Nov 20 (medals/clasps received)
  • Batch 2 – notified between 20 Nov 20 and 9 Dec 20 (medals/clasps received)
  • Batch 3 – notified between 10 Dec 20 and 28 Jan 21 (medals/clasps received)
  • Batch 4 – notified between 29 Jan 21 and 14 Apr 21 (medals/clasps being despatched)
  • Batch 5 – Notified between 15 Apr 21 and 28 May 21 (final validation/processing)

Lists are forwarded by the Team to Honours and Awards every 4-6 weeks.  The current timeframe from a validated list being sent by the Team, until receipt of medals, is in the order of 8 weeks.

Communication

Please spread the word to your mates about the Op Bursa ASM project, where to get information and how to apply. The project team is currently working part time, and will respond to your emails as soon as practicable.

The team is:

CAPT Andrew Whittaker
LCDR Murray Lindsay

The email address to send your application and supporting documentation is: op.bursa@defence.gov.au.

The Team aim to reply to your emails within 7 days, so if you have not received a response within that timeframe, try again.

Application Form

The application form can be downloaded here.

 


Remembering:

LSA Gary Macey and CPL James Campbell (RAAF)
Killed in the crash of Wessex 825 in Bass Straight, 4 December 1983.