Board Communiqué – 21 November 2019
Dear RSL Members,
The RSL NSW Board held a half-day meeting on Thursday, 21 November 2019 at ANZAC House, the first meeting since congress.
It was a very full agenda, and I would like to convey several key outcomes:
- During the President’s update to the meeting I acknowledged the members’ decision to adopt a new constitution from 1 December 2019, noting this would be the last meeting conducted under the old one. I was keen to acknowledge the incredible resilience of all our members and their communities impacted by the bushfires. The whole League is supporting them, and I particularly acknowledged those sub-Branches who responded to our special request for funding, to be distributed by our RSL DefenceCare team, namely Gunnedah, Canterbury/Hurlstone Park, Cumberland, City of Newcastle, Bundeena, City of Lismore and City of Liverpool sub-Branches, as well as an individual member from Lithgow City sub-Branch and two anonymous donors.
- This week the CEO and I met with our RSL Queensland counterparts. They briefed us on their new strategic plan, which includes massive investments to improve the reach, quantity and quality of veterans’ support services, including delivery of services across Australia. They are keen to include New South Wales, and we need to stay engaged with RSL Queensland as the resources they are deploying are significant. The updated plan, driven by a new vision, will be funded by an approximate doubling of surplus from their lotteries.As advised at congress, we raised our members’ concerns about the impact of the RSL Lottery in all our communities. While we were not able to agree on a way forward regarding equity participation, RSL Queensland is currently considering their service delivery model in line with their new strategic plan, and how this model might support RSL across all states. In the interim, details of RSL Art Union activity in New South Wales will be shared with you to ensure we are all equipped to answer customer queries. Our conversations are ongoing and I will keep you updated through my President Update emails as we progress discussions, including on Woolworths poppy sales.
- The board considered a request from the CEO to commence state-wide consultation on our own proposed strategic plan. The board agreed to support the proposal to consult, after suggested changes to the draft are incorporated, and I expect the consultation process to commence by early December. It’s an exciting future, reflecting the membership’s positivity from our recent congress.
- On our financial position, the board continues to monitor the financial sustainability plan of RSL NSW, including ANZAC House cost reductions.
- Other matters included:The board considered progress on deciding a location for congress in 2020 and noted that venues were given until 29 November 2019 to express interest. The board will announce the decision as soon as possible after that date.The board agreed to approve the re-appointment of Ms Kris Hulme to the RSL LifeCare Board for a further three-year term.As promised at congress, the board considered the matter of sub-Branch subsidisation of annual membership fees. The board resolved not to change the policy, and confirmed the resolution of March 2018 not to approve subsidisation.Subsidies allow inequality in the system. Some sub-Branches can afford to subsidise fees for both their own members and members of other sub-Branches, which some choose to do. Other sub-Branches cannot, and this is unfair. To avoid this, subsidies will not be permitted. RSL NSW management has been asked to monitor compliance with this direction, and to refer any non-compliance to the board for submission to the RSL NSW Tribunal.
This policy does not prohibit the payment of membership fees in cases of genuine welfare assistance for either new or existing members. Fees may still be paid for veterans assessed as needing financial or non-financial assistance, consistent with the sub-Branch’s charitable purpose. The board acknowledges the importance of membership, and involvement in the League, for all veterans.
A number of commercial-in-confidence decisions were made, and I will inform you about these once processes are underway and details can be disclosed.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 26 February 2020. In the meantime, the board will be meeting with the District Council presidents on 28 November 2019 to undertake the process of approving the standard operating procedures (SOPs). The board will also convene on 5 February 2020 to consider other strategic issues.