AUSTRALIAN soldier Corporal Daniel Keighran has been awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest honour for acts of bravery in wartime.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce bestowed the honour on 29-year-old Corporal Keighran during a ceremony at Government House in Canberra.
He is the third Australian soldier to be awarded the VC for service in Afghanistan.
Corporal Keighran, from Nambour in Queensland, was a member of the Mentoring Task Force 1 on Operation Slipper in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan on August 24, 2010.
He was involved in a firefight between Taliban fighters and Australian and Afghan troops. He repeatedly broke cover to draw fire, allowing the enemy locations to be identified and neutralised.
In the citation it was noted the enemy fire was "accurate and intense''. He repeatedly exposed himself to life-threatening gunfire coming from multiple directions.
On one occasion he moved from cover to draw fire away from a team that was treating a casualty, and then assisted in clearing the landing zone for an evacuation. The Australian and Afghan forces sustained no further injuries.
Ms Bryce described Corporal Keighran, who enlisted in 2000, as a man of profound physical and moral strength.
``A man selfless in the face of threat, courageous in the face of terror, generous in the face of suffering and humble in the face of an honour bestowed,'' she said.
Ms Bryce said there were other heroes on that day, but what he did was different.
``Acknowledging it here now does not diminish the efforts and sacrifices of those who fought beside you,'' she said.
``They need you to be here.
``Because by being here the story of that day is told and through it, their stories are told.''
Corporal Keighran had saved previous lives, she said.
``You have pushed the bounds of human compassion, endurance and gallantry to a place unknown to most and revered by all,'' the governor-general said.
``With this medal your nation honours you.''
Corporal Keighran attended the ceremony with his wife Kathryn.
Dignitaries, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Defence Force chief David Hurley, gathered for the ceremony.
Warrant Officer Keith Payne, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of gallantry in the Vietnam War, also attended the ceremony.
Corporal Mark Donaldson, who was awarded the honour in 2009, attended the ceremony. SAS Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, the last recipient, was unable to attend but his wife Emma was at the ceremony.
The Victoria Cross for Australia is the "decoration for according recognition to persons who in the presence of the enemy, perform acts of the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty."
The last recipient of the Victoria Cross was SAS Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith on June 11, 2010.
The SAS trooper was awarded the Victoria Cross for an act of bravery in Afghanistan on June 11, 2010.
To save comrades under machine-gun attack, he stormed an insurgent bunker, killing the enemy.
In 2009, SAS Corporal Mark Donaldson became the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in 40 years.
Corporal Donaldson, a 29-year-old trooper from the Special Air Services Regiment (SASR), showed incredible bravery during a frenzied battle in Uruzgan Province the previous year.