The highest award presented by the AFLUA is life membership and for much of its history this was the only award conferred on members. In the 1950s it was supplemented by the Special Award (now Lifetime Achievement Award) which recognised outstanding service by a life member.

It was not until 1975 that the association decided to present an annual award for outstanding service by a member – the Bishop Shield. Field, boundary and goal umpires were eligible for nomination.

In 2000, and in order to reflect the distinct contribution of each umpiring discipline to umpiring and the AFLUA, the Executive Committee decided to introduce awards which reflect the same level of achievement in each of these umpire categories.

The AFLUA’s most prestigious awards are the Bishop, Murray Williams and Leigh Keen Shields. The criteria for these awards focus on:

  • Success in umpiring in the particular year
  • Active contributor and supporter of the AFLUA
  • Role model to the category list through commitment and dedication

The AFLUA also recognises its most promising first or second year umpires with the Ian Coates, Bill Sutton and Brian Pratt Medallions.

Since 1991 the AFL has selected an All-Australian field umpire. In 2005, the AFLUA introduced an AFLUA All-Australian award for the boundary and goal umpires. The recipient is the highest ranked AFLUA member at the conclusion of the season. In 2022, the AFL began awarding All-Australian umpire awards to boundary and goal umpires as well as field umpires.

For five years the VFL also awarded the Jack McMurray Scholarships to the two best umpires in the Cadet Squad