The original objectives of the Royal Humane Society of NSW were:

  1. To afford relief to widows, orphans and other dependents of seamen who lost their lives or were injured in shipwreck;
  2. To assist crews of vessels wrecked in New South Wales waters; and
  3. To grant medals or rewards for bravery in saving human life.

The necessity for the first and second objectives ceased when it was considered that they were adequately covered by legal provisions. Pensions ceased to be paid in the late 1960's. In recent years, however, the Society has noted cases in which the utilisation of provisions enabling financial grants in selected circumstances could have been a desirable course.

The Society, of course, has maintained its third objective which was widened to include acts of bravery in attempting to save human life.


Society Awards

The Society's awards are the Galleghan Award, Silver Medal, Bronze Medal, Certificate of Merit, Letter of Commendation and the Sir Neville Pixley Book Award.   

With the permission of the New South Wales Government, the obverse of the medals includes part of the Arms of the State of New South Wales, surrounded by the name of the Society. The reverse of the medal exhibits a Civic Wreath, which was the Roman reward for saving life, with the words, "Awarded to…………………for Bravery". The name of each medal winner and the date of the act of bravery is engraved on the reverse of the medal. The medal is also numbered on its edge to indicate the consecutive number of the award by the Society.   

The ribbon for all medals is light blue with a strip of dark blue on either side.   

The Certificate of Merit is a scroll bearing the Arms of the State of New South Wales. It is inscribed with the recipient's name and signed by the President, Chairman and Secretary.

The Galleghan Award: The Galleghan Award was instituted in 1996 and recognises what the Society considers to have been the most outstanding act of bravery in the year.

It is designated by a bar reading "Galleghan Award" affixed to the ribbon of the medal award.     The award is named after Brigadier Sir Frederick Galleghan DSO OBE ISO ED, who was the Society's Secretary from 1958 until his death in 1971.   

Sir Frederick was twice wounded in the Great War, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the Second World War for his leadership and gallantry when commanding the 2/30th Battalion at the battle of Gemas in Malaya.

The Stanhope Gold Medal: The Stanhope Gold Medal, an award of the Royal Humane Society (UK), was instituted in 1873 as the English Society's highest award for bravery each year.    

In 1962, all kindred Commonwealth Societies were invited to nominate each year their best cases for adjudication for this award. Since that time, nominations by the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales have been successful on seven occasions.