Western Student Connections is proud to be an Award Unit for the Duke of Edinburgh International Award


How is an Award Achieved?

Each young person who takes part in the Award learns a skill, improves their physical well being, volunteers in their community and experiences a team adventure in a new environment. All Participants are supported by a network of adult Award Leaders, Assessors, Supervisors, and mentors.

The key elements of the program are:

  • Open to all between the ages of 14 to 25.
  • Three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold, each progressively more challenging.
  • Four Sections: Physical Recreation, Skill, Service, Adventurous Journey plus Residential Project (Gold Level only).
  • Achieving an Award recognises individual goal setting and self-improvement through persistence and achievement.

The Fundamentals of the Award

  • Regular participation in activities is required to meet the time requirements of each Award Section and Level.
  • Focuses on capacity building by encouraging all young Australians to make independent decisions and to negotiate priorities through participation.
  • Provides a framework that works with all young people in any conceivable situation. This includes youth at risk, Indigenous youth, new refugees, marginalised youth
  • Assists with the provision of social infrastructure in the community and draws together and connects people, institutions and generations with the common purpose of youth development and inclusion.

Award Framework

The Award is comprised of three levels and four sections.
Participants complete all four Sections at each level in order to achieve either their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. At Gold level, participants also complete a Residential Project.

The Four Operating Principles

These operating principles (Reference: International Declaration – Article 3) form the mandatory features of the Award. Together with the 10 guiding principles listed below, they form the essential components of the Award.


Participants need to be between their 14th and 25th birthdays to be doing The Award.


The structure of The Award program consists of four mandatory sections: Service, Adventurous Journey, Skill and Physical Recreation. At Gold level Participants also undertake a Residential Project away from home.


There are three levels of Award: Bronze (for those aged 14 or over), Silver (for those aged 15 or over) and Gold (for those aged 16 or over)

Minimum Time

The minimum period of participation for direct entrants to qualify for an Award is six months for Bronze, 12 months for Silver and 18 months for a Gold Award.

The Ten Guiding Principles

One program for all, regardless of location or circumstance.


Individuals design their own program, which is tailored to suit their personal circumstances, choices and local provision. They start at whichever level of the Award that suits them best and they can take as long as they wish (within the age limit) to achieve their Award. This process is typically undertaken with their Award Leader.


Doing their Award is a personal challenge and not a competition against others. Every Participant’s program is tailor-made to reflect their individual starting point, abilities and interests.


An Award is achievable by any individual who chooses to take up the challenge, regardless of ability, gender, background, or location, with the right guidance and inspiration.


Whilst the Award may be offered within school, university, work time, custody or extra-curricular activity, individuals chose to do a program and must commit a substantial amount of their free time to undertake their activities.


Participating in their Award program fosters personal and social development. Individuals gain valuable experiences and life skills, grow in confidence and become more aware of their environment and community, transforming them into responsible young adults. They have the chance to discover their potential through the encouragement and the individual programming provided by volunteers.


The Award provides a balanced framework to develop the individual’s mind, body and community spirit by engaging them in a range of up to five different challenges.


The Award is about setting goals and working towards these. Activity time undertaken prior to being accepted as a Participant by the Award Leader cannot be included in the minimum participation time requirements. At each level of engagement, the Award demands progressively more time, commitment and responsibility from the Participant.


The Award inspires individuals to exceed their expectations. They are encouraged to set their own challenges and goals before starting an activity, aim for these goals and by showing improvement, achieve an Award.


The Award requires persistence and cannot be completed with a short burst of enthusiasm. Participants are encouraged to continue with activities and to maintain their interest beyond their program requirements.


Participants and Award Leaders should find the Award enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding.

More Information (pdf)

The Bronze Award


Participants are required to give service (volunteer) over a set period of time that enables them to experience the benefits that their service provides to others.

Examples of Service:

  • Visiting and supporting people in need, such as the elderly, or those with disabilities
  • Volunteering at a hospital or local care home
  • Sports coaching
  • Charity work
  • First aid

Time requirements: Bronze – at least 3 months or 6 months if chosen as a Major Section

Participants must:

  1. Undertake an activity regularly where they are donating their time to a genuine cause for the required length of time depending on the Award level chosen
  2. Meet the minimum time requirements depending on the Award level chosen
  3. Show regular commitment, progress and improvement in their chosen volunteer activity
  4. Understand that regular time commitment means at least one (1) hour per week (refer to handbook 1.6.3 for Time Requirements Explained)
  5. Undertake activities substantially in their own time. This means that whilst some activity may take place within school, university or work hours, most of it should occur outside of these scheduled times

Physical Recreation

Encouraging healthy behaviours has benefits, not only for Participants but also for their communities, whether through improved health, or active participation in team activities. This Section specifically aims to improve the health, team skills, self-esteem and confidence of Participants.

Examples of Physical Recreation

  • Ball sports – football, rugby, volleyball, basketball, cricket, golf, tennis, netball
  • Athletics – running, jumping, throwing, triathlon, decathlon
  • Water sports – surfing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, water polo, diving, rowing
  • Martial arts – karate, judo, kickboxing, boxing, taekwondo, kendo
  • Animal sports – horse riding, polo
  • Other Activities including dancing, gymnastics, cycling

Time requirements: Bronze – At least 3 months or 6 months if chosen as a Major Section


The Skills Section provides the opportunity for a Participant to either improve on an existing skill, or to try something new. As with the other Sections of the Award, a level of commitment is required over time to progress a skill. It leads to a sense of achievement and well-being, and possibly improved employability through the development of life and vocational skills.

Examples of Skills

  • Music – singing, learning to play an instrument, music event management
  • Sports related – sports officiating, umpiring/refereeing, sports ground maintenance
  • Arts and crafts – ceramics, embroidery, jewellery making, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography
  • Nature and the environment – agriculture, astronomy, bee keeping, conservation, fishing, forestry, gardening
  • Communication – film and video, languages, reading, writing, public speaking, journalism, website development
  • Games – billiards, snooker or pool, chess, darts, backgammon

Time Requirements: Bronze – 3 months or 6 months if chosen as a Major Section

Adventurous Journey

The journey can be an exploration or an expedition but must be a challenge. The aim of this Section is to provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the wider environment, as well as to develop their self-confidence, team work and health. Participants are taken out of their comfort zone- in an unfamiliar environment but kept within a safe and secure setting, achieved through suitable training and supervision.

Examples of Adventurous Journeys (explorations and expeditions)

  • Exploring the natural world: flora, fauna, erosion, geology, coastal studies
  • Exploring river valleys, plant studies, exploring human impact: visitor pressure in national parks, pollution
  • Carrying out health surveys or health education in remote areas
  • Completing a demanding journey by foot, cycle, canoe or kayak
  • Kayaking the entire navigable stretch of a river
  • An extensive sail across an ocean
  • Climbing mountainous peaks
  • Cycling from one part of a country to another
  • Undertaking a challenging journey in an urban environment

Three Types of Adventurous Journey

  1. Expeditions – a journey with a purpose
  2. Explorations – a purpose with a journey
  3. Adventurous Projects (Gold Only)

Documents for Participants

Participant Application Form (pdf)
Participant Award Plan (pdf)
Award Requirements for Participants and Parent/Carer (pdf)
Award Guide for Bronze Participants (pdf)


Duke of Edinburgh Award Home Page
Online Record Book (ORB) - for Registration and Log in