top of page

The RSL Badge

Learn more about the RSL badge

The History of the RSL Badge

The RSL badge - Australian War Memorial

History of the Badge

In June 1916, a conference of state-based returned soldiers and sailors associations recommended the formation of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA) with the aim of continuing to provide the camaraderie and mateship shown among Australian troops while they were at war. 

Various badges were designed and worn by state-based associations around this time, though the 1916 national badge was gradually adopted and accepted across the country. 

Since 1916, the badge's design has changed as Australia and the League itself evolved. Several name and badge changes occurred up until 1990, when the name Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) was adopted. This name change reflected the fact that membership of the RSL was now open to all ex-service personnel - regardless of active service status. Coinciding with this name change, the present RSL badge was designed and introduced. 

The RSL badge is a symbol of constant readiness to render service to Crown, country, and former comrades.  It is a treasured emblem that is worn proudly by those who have had the distinct honour of serving - or still serving - their country in the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force; in a full-time or reserve capacity. 

The badge is is also worn just as proudly by allied armed forces members and those admitted to the League through service or affiliated membership. 

The RSL badge - Australian War Memorial

Badge Design


The crown that sits atop the current badge signifies allegiance to Queen and country. The shield design is symbolic of the protection provided to those who wear it.


Below the crown are the national flowers of Australia, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland: the wattle, the leek, the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock.


In the centre of the badge are a sailor, soldier, airman and service woman marching with their arms linked; symbolising friendship and that all services, and all ranks, are united in comradeship.


The red of the badge is symbolic of the blood tie of war. The white background stands for the purity of motive – and to render service without personal gain. The blue is a symbol of willingness to render service to a comrade anywhere under the blue sky.

bottom of page