Cheryl Elston - The Australian slouch hat

Running time
2 min 26 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


So the Australian slouch hat, it's pretty symbolic, and, obviously it's internationally recognized as the Australian Army. So the Australian soldier is quite proud of the hat, and we treat it with a lot of respect. We don't tend to throw it on the ground. We try to look after it. It's changed over time, so these days we wear our corps badge, which is, essentially, what job that you do, so mine is a medical corps badge. And each badge has got small aspects that represent parts of your trade or your corps.

Then you've got the puggaree, and each of the folds represents the states and territories. In Rwanda, we actually wore, were given permission, which I believe is one of the first times that we were actually given permission, and we wore a UN blue puggaree because that obviously kept us identified as Australian with the slouch hat, but we were UN with the blue puggaree.

These days we have our, what we call, colour patches, which is something that harks back to World War I, where they would designate as the colours, and the symbols inside designate what unit and formation you belong to. And most of them, these days, actually can trace their lineage back to World War I units. So we try to maintain that tradition.

Obviously, with the brim up, is more these days with ceremonial dresses, and we wear the, obviously, another symbol of the Australian Army is the rising sun, which, over time, has changed in design. But these days, we have the rising sun and the crown, and the Australian Army written on that. Obviously , in the early days, the weapons were quite long and especially when you put a bayonet on top, that would actually interrupt. So the slouch hat was pulled up so therefore the bayonet and the weapon could actually sit without interfering with the headdress. But these days, we wear it down because, obviously, sun protection.

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