Final Constitution 2019 FAQs

Some frequently asked questions with answers explaining the major aspects of the final proposed constitution can be found below. Click on the question to view a detailed answer.

FAQs
Why is a new constitution needed?

The Constitution of RSL NSW must be compliant with the RSL NSW Act 2018. Our current constitution is not compliant with the Act, which was amended in late 2018. The need to update our constitution brings an opportunity for much-needed simplification and modernisation of the document that underpins the way the League operates. In doing so, a new constitution can reflect the major shifts in governance practices and charities legislation over the decades.

Will this constitution reduce members power and/or increase the power of the board?

No. The proposed new constitution more clearly defines the powers of the board, which are often ambiguous in our current constitution. However, the changes in language have been deliberately crafted to grant no new powers to the board.

At the same time, a number of key inclusions maintain and advance member and sub-Branch influence. These include the introduction of one member, one vote for board elections, the maintenance of a threshold of two-thirds of sub-Branches present and voting for constitutional amendments, and the bolstered role of the new District Presidents’ Council (DPC) in holding the board to account.

You can read the most recent President Update, which deals with misinformation in this area, by clicking here.

How has the lack of camaraderie in the 2018 draft been addressed in this new constitution?

The version of the constitution proposed in 2018 talked about camaraderie in terms of social isolation and social connection for veterans. Feedback from members was clear that it should be called what it is: camaraderie.

Camaraderie is now being specifically referred to in clause 3.4 to reflect that it is a core part of our charitable purpose.

Why was the preamble changed?

There was consistent feedback that ‘paragraph 4’ of the draft preamble, which spoke to why the constitution needed to change, was unnecessary. Feedback received was that the preamble needs to focus on higher-level ideas, and so this has been removed from the final version.

Can executive committee members of a sub-Branch now also be trustees?

Yes. The final version of the new constitution has changed to allow executive committee members of a sub-Branch to simultaneously act as trustees. This will reduce the number of people required to hold positions on a sub-Branch, reflecting feedback received from the District Councils and sub-Branches.

What changes are being proposed to sub‑Branch auditing requirements in the final draft?

The reporting and audit requirements for sub-Branches are now aligned with the ACNC’s requirements. Specifically, the RSL NSW requirement for accounts to be audited every year will not apply to those sub-Branches classed by ACNC as small charities—that is, those with assets below $250,000. Members may still vote to have their sub-Branch accounts audited.

The new constitution aligns our own annual return requirements with the ACNC requirements, lifting a significant burden on smaller sub-Branches.

Why was a provision for board remuneration left in the constitution?

Remuneration has remained in the final version, given it is permissible under the RSL NSW Act. It is important to clarify that this is an enabling provision rather than a requirement for remuneration. The decision on whether a board is remunerated (and the total dollar figure) will rest with the members through a motion put forward for vote at congress.

For the 2019 congress there is no motion to remunerate the board, and so the current board will not be paid.

Does there need to be a treasurer on the board?

The board feels that there is no requirement for a state treasurer to sit on the Board of RSL NSW, as long as there is a properly qualified employee in the role of Chief Financial Officer or a similar position. Should there be no financial skill on the board through the elected service members, there is a further opportunity to bring in those skills through the independent directors.

What has happened to the position of State Secretary?

The State Secretary position will continue to be formally recognised in the new constitution. In 2018 the roles of CEO and State Secretary were split into two distinct areas of responsibility, both reporting to the board. That will remain in this new constitution.

There is a strong preference for the State Secretary to be a service member. The DC7 and broader member feedback noted that this position is important to ensure the members’ voice is ever-present in the day-to-day running of the organisation.

What is the role of the CEO?

The CEO manages the business affairs on a day-to-day basis. The board sets the strategy, policies and business objectives for RSL NSW, and it is up to the CEO to deliver on them.

Will the CEO attend all board meetings?

The initial draft has been changed so the CEO will now be invited to attend board meetings as needed and determined by the board.

What role will members have in selecting or managing the performance of the CEO?

The relationship between the board and the CEO is an employment contract—a relationship like any other in a business environment. The CEO is answerable to the board, who are ultimately answerable to the membership via elections.

What has happened to the threshold for approval of constitutional motions?

The board has decided to keep the threshold for approval of constitutional motions at congress at a two-thirds majority of delegates present and voting at congress, as in our current constitution.

What other changes are being proposed to voting on motions at congress and what is the rationale behind them?

It is the opinion of the board that it should be only sub-Branches that vote on motions at congress, not District Councils or the board themselves. This will increase the value of each sub-Branch’s vote, particularly in larger districts, and is consistent with the process for voting on State Council elections up to now, which District Councils did not participate in.

Proxy voting will also be introduced for sub-Branches that cannot attend congress due to exceptional circumstances—particularly those in the bush. They will be able to give their proxy vote to their District Council delegate, who will thus maintain an important role at congress.

What is the thinking behind the new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) being issued alongside the new constitution?

The SOPs will replace the current By-Laws and Regulations. They are not designed to be step-by-step instructions, but rather practical guides to manage a sub-Branch. The SOPs will remain binding (as are the current By-Laws), however, they make the goalposts wider to reflect what actually happens on the ground, rather than strict guidelines which realistically aren’t followed in practice. That way sub-Branches can get on doing the business that they do in the manner they wish to do it, within realistic parameters.

It is critical that the SOPs work for sub-Branches and as such we have introduced a mechanism for them to be reviewed by the District Presidents’ Council at regular intervals to ensure that members/sub-Branches have a say in their content and development.

 

Is there concern that less prescriptive SOPs could leave too much room for interpretation?

Strict, step-by-step guidelines work very well for some sub-Branches, and not so well for others. The new SOPs reflect that the vast majority of sub-Branches operate perfectly well and want more autonomy. If in doubt, a sub-Branch can always get support from ANZAC House if they need more clarification.

Why hasn't all feedback made it into the final constitution?

Some feedback has not made it to the document for specific legal reasons. With so much information to discuss, we also received conflicting feedback, so it wasn’t possible for every single suggestion to make its way into the document. The vast majority of things that could be included have been included—for example, expressly recognising camaraderie, allowing sub-Branch executives to serve as trustees and increasing trustees’ options for granting leases, and making board appointments contingent on District Presidents’ Council (DPC) approval.

How can members be comfortable with minor errors they find in these documents?

An effort has been made to address the most important points first, to give members a fixed idea of the content and substance as early as possible in advance of congress. A final, proofed version reflecting feedback from District Councils, mostly around minor changes to punctuation and spelling, was mailed to sub-Branches and released online along with the Notice of Meeting in mid-September, six weeks before congress.

This constitution will continue to develop as our environment transforms, while staying true to what the League is and what we stand for. RSL NSW believes the constitution now going to vote at congress delivers this. We have kept the existing power balances that are currently in place within the League, while ensuring every level of our structure has a say. These checks and balances will allow for further wide consultation if there are any changes that need to be made in the future.