Board Communiqué – 17 March 2020
On 17 March 2020, the RSL NSW Board convened an extraordinary meeting to address how RSL NSW should play its part to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and the situation across RSL NSW. It considered the latest risks in order to satisfy its accountabilities that all reasonable care is being taken.
The board agreed to maintain the position that the RSL in NSW will not undertake or participate in any ANZAC Day commemoration or activity, either on ANZAC Day, leading up to or after the day.
No activity applies to all sub-Branches. The board carefully considered the government advice and directions to ensure all aspects of their duty of care accountabilities were considered. Although understanding of the impact of such a decision in view of the RSL’s mission, and the significance of the commemoration, the risks to member and public health is too great not to act. Therefore, for state-wide consistency, and to avoid any ambiguity, the board reinforced its decision that all ANZAC Day commemorations and activities are cancelled in NSW (activities include sub-Branch participation in dawn services, gunfire breakfasts, dinners, marches, flag ceremonies etc). There are to be no exceptions.
RSL NSW is working with the NSW government to plan an alternative commemoration that can be televised to members. This is to ensure the ANZAC traditions and solemn recognition of service can be appropriately observed. As soon as the outcome of these discussions are known, districts, sub-Branches and members will be informed.
Day Clubs and Youth Clubs
Sub-Branches should carefully consider the risks associated with day and youth club activities, and while the board decided this should be a sub-Branch decision, the advice is to suspend or cancel all activities that could expose participants or the public to risk of the virus, regardless of the number of participants.
The board resolved to allow the continuation of state-wide planning for the conduct of fundraising associated with ANZAC Day or other local activities. Fundraising will continue and sub-Branches should apply public health and safety guidelines to protect from the spread of the virus.
Sub-Branch Meetings and Other Activities
The board decided that the continuation of sub-Branch meetings and activities should be at the discretion of sub-Branch executives, but such activities should be conducted strictly within government directions and guidelines, with risks to members and public health to be carefully considered. All discretionary and high-risk activities should be cancelled or postponed.
Please review the Australian Government’s advisory on COVID-19.
Sub-Branch leadership should be familiar with this advice and brief their members about the importance of ‘social-distancing’ if any sub-Branch meetings or activities occur. The government’s explanation about social distancing is as follows:
“Social distancing is one way to help slow the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. Social distancing includes staying at home when you are unwell, avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible and minimising physical contact especially with people at higher risk of developing serious symptoms, such as older people and people with existing health conditions. There’s no need to change your daily routine but taking these social distancing precautions can help protect the people in our community who are most at risk.”
For further information on COVID-19 and how to protect yourself and others, please members should familiarise themselves with the government frequently asked questions and follow the latest updates from NSW Health.
ANZAC House Operations
ANZAC House and the Hyde Park Inn will continue to operate under the business continuity plans in place. If decided, ANZAC House will be closed, and all operations will be conducted by staff from respective homes. Planning to make this possible is underway now. Districts and sub-Branches will be kept informed.
District Presidents’ Council
To ensure all sub-Branch executives are informed of the decisions conveyed in this communiqué, the board resolved to ask the DPC to facilitate a positive acknowledgement that all sub-Branches have received and have acknowledged the direction regarding ANZAC Day and other activities.
After yesterday’s announcement, the Support Unit in ANZAC House fielded many calls from sub-Branches and members. Regrettably, the team have been verbally abused on a number of occasions because of the decisions taken by the board. This member behaviour is not in keeping with the values of the League. If members or executive office holders wish to complain or clarify any decision made by the board, please be respectful to the support team, and/or address the matter in writing.
Chair, Board of Directors