The National Shipwreck Relief Society of New South Wales was formed after the wreck of the Yarra Yarra, 15 July 1877, at Oyster Bank at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. The iron paddle steamer had sought shelter from a violent storm, but was lost with all 18 hands. Four days later, a public meeting of citizens at the Royal Exchange, Sydney, chaired by the Reverend Dr Lang, decided to form the Society 'for the relief of the widows, orphans and others dependent upon men lost in the marine service of our coast, or elsewhere, such relief to be distributed at the discretion of the Committee'.

The Society was instituted on 25 July, 1877. When its first meeting was held two days later subscriptions had already exceeded £ 2,000.
The Society was alternately named the 'Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of New South Wales', and later the 'Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of New South Wales'.

In 1902, King Edward VII gave permission for the Society to be known as the Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of New South Wales. In 1968, Queen Elizabeth II approved the change of name to the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales in common with all British Commonwealth Nations.

Today 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. 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.

References:
Royal Humane Society website http://www.braveryaward.org/RHS%20-%20Home%20Page.htm
South Australian Numismatic Journal. Vol.7 [2]. April 1956, p.13 (copy in sup. file NU 18420).

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