Kirsty Sword-Gusmao (left) and Captain Nancy Wake (right)
We need to lobby Australian government to award Bravery Medal for Kirsty Sword Gusmao:
THE NANCY WAKE OF TIMOR - Kirsty Sword Gusmao
by Sasha Uzunov
It is incredible that Australian woman Kirsty Sword Gusmao has never been awarded a bravery medal by the Australian government for her activities in East Timor in the lead up to independence in 1999 from Indonesia.
Her story reflects that of another famous Australian heroine, the feisty Nancy Wake, a member of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) with the rank of Captain during World War II who served with the French Resistance against the Nazi German occupiers. She was a secret courier known as the White Mouse for her ability to elude.
Nancy Wake was an official combatant--Australia and the British Empire were at war with Nazi Germany. She was awarded a George Medal for Bravery.
From 1992 to 1999, Sword-Gusmao under the cover of a civilian involved in international humanitarian work in Indonesia was as a spy for the East Timorese resistance movement. Her code name was Ruby Blade. She placed herself in danger of being arrested by the Indonesian intelligence service BAKIN and probably tortured and even murdered. If you remember when Indonesia invaded the then Portuguese colony in 1975 it without any fear from Canberra murdered 5 Australian based journalists in the border town of Balibo.
Even though Australia and Indonesia were not in a state of war, the Australian civilian Bravery Medal has scope for an award. Her actions were brave by placing her life in danger for fighting for international human rights for the Timorese people.
The 1999 intervention by Australian troops in East Timor confirmed that Sword-Gusmao's activities, though not sanctioned by the Australian government in the early 1990s, were correct.
The civilian Bravery Medal has scope for an award to Kirsty Sword-Gusmao. link to the official award site
Details: Anyone may nominate any other person for a bravery decoration.
The nomination may be for a brave act by an Australian citizen in Australia or overseas. A citizen of another country carrying out a brave act in Australia may also be nominated.
Bravery decorations may be made posthumously.
The Honours Secretariat at Government House researches the nominations. The Australian Bravery Decorations Council then considers them.
The Council has fourteen members including representatives of each state and territory, two ex-officio members and four community members appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The Australian Bravery Decorations Council makes recommendations for awards to the Governor-General. The Council also recommends the level of awards.
There is no set time frame for announcing bravery awards. Generally there are two announcements a year each April and August.
I would urge all Australians to write to the Honours and Awards Secretariat and to lobby the Prime Minister and the Federal Leader of the Opposition.