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Special Event Callsign



The normal Australian Amateur Callsign prefix is VK, but on days of national significance Australian Amateurs are able to substitute the VK in their callsign with the letters AX. Each year we are permitted to use these special call letters on 3 days, the 26th January which is Australia Day, our national day and a public holiday in our country.

We are also permitted to use the AX prefix on 25th April each year, which is Anzac Day, a day of national remembrance when Australia remembers all of our service men and women who have paid the supreme sacrifice. Anzac comes from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was formed to fight the German and Ottoman Empires in the Dardanelles on the Gallipoli Peninsular during the First World War, the Anzac's went on to great victories on the Western Front later in the war although it cost a great loss of life.

The 3rd day is the 17th May when we join the rest of the world and mark World Communications Day or ITU day.   


Example of a QSL for Anzac Day when signing as AX4FSRD


Special call signs are issued for the purpose of celebrating significant events, and in Australia the letters AX can be substituted for the VK prefix on a temporary basis, and VI can be issued with a WIA call sign recommendation and ACMA approval.

The AX prefix is permitted to be used by all Australian radio amateurs for events of national significance. These are: Australia Day, Anzac Day and ITU Day, or a major sporting event like the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Use of the AX prefix was permitted over a whole year for the Captain Cook Bicentenary of 1970, a major occasion of national and international significance. In other words, the AX prefix is very tightly controlled and its usage is clearly defined.

The VI prefix on the other hand is permitted to be used by clubs, organizations, or groups of amateurs for occasions of special State or local significance, but only when the prefix is not required for use by other radiocommunications services. Special event call sign recommendations are made by the WIA to the ACMA, and in most cases the ACMA will follow the WIA’s recommendation and issue the call sign. Special event VI call signs would normally only be issued where the Amateur station concerned is actually participating in the event. Generally, only one VI licence would be issued per event.

However, the question often arises as to what constitutes a “special event”. According to the regulation, a special event is an event of international, national, state/territory or local significance and of broad interest to the Amateur or wider community. A special event call sign would not normally be issued for a recurrent event unless it is a particularly significant occasion, or for a 25 year, 50 year, or 100 year anniversary. Notably, special call signs are available for the annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA), the VKnGGA-GGZ block for Guides and the VKnSAA-SDZ block for Scouts. A special event call sign cannot be issued in a situation where a competitive advantage may be obtained, such as in a contest or for use during Islands on the Air (IOTA) competitions, DX expeditions, or fox hunts etc.

Recently, the WIA has received applications for special event call signs that fall outside the defined requirements of a “special event”. For instance, one was for a 30-year anniversary of a radio club and another was for a DXpedition. The WIA’s view is that these occasions do not meet the definition of “special”, and the applications for the requested special call signs were not recommended to the ACMA.

However, in the past, the WIA has not been very consistent in its definition of “special”, and VI callsigns applications have been received for DXpeditions, for example. On one occasion, a single-letter 2x1 call sign (VI2R) was recommended by the WIA, and issued by the ACMA for an amateur station associated with the Rotary International Convention held in Sydney in 2014, even though its issue did not meet the regulatory requirements.

In order to apply a more consistent approach to the recommendation of special event call signs, the “specialness” of an event will now be determined by at least one WIA Director and a member who is knowledgeable about these matters, following receipt of an application. Consequentially, the Directors will be applying criteria for each VI call sign issued. Your thoughts in what warrants a VI prefix would be appreciated.

Each administration around the world has its own requirements regarding special event call signs. For instance, in Australia, we have been permitted to use commemorative call signs for very special events, such as the use of VK100WIA for the centenary of the WIA, and the current use of the commemorative ANZAC call signs; however, the FCC and some other administrations do not allow commemorative call signs, so our current use of the VK100ANZAC call sign would not be permissible. A good summary of call sign application and usage in Australia is in the WIA Callbook.




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 Steve Dudley( VK4FI)
Highfields - Queensland - Australia
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