President Updates

President Update – 20 February 2020

Dear RSL members,

It has been a busy start to the year, with veterans’ policy being heavily discussed in parliament and the media. The positive news about the government’s commitment to addressing the dreadful veteran suicide issue, and how to ensure ongoing family support through a new permanent independent commissioner with powers akin to a coroner has been followed by the announcement late last week that the 2021 Census will include a question around service in the ADF. With greater knowledge of where veteran families are located across the country, the government will be better placed to allocate support services, and we will work closely with them to ensure the RSL does the same. Knowing where our veterans are and what services they need is vital for the RSL to evolve with the veteran community.

Also, at state level, there has been a successful outcome for veterans, with the government agreeing to extend the regional travel card to veterans and war widows. While this is not yet available, information on the card and how to apply once it is available can be found on the Service NSW website

These are all important outcomes, but there is still much to do, and our focus must turn to the future.

I have attended many sub-Branch and DC consultations on our draft strategic plan. This plan is so important if we are to quickly address the major threats to the League. We must change to be relevant for the future, attract new members, return to be the recognised leader for veterans and their families, and of course, custodian of our military heritage. l know change is hard, but doing nothing is not an option. It’s an exciting plan and your feedback is so important as ultimately, it’s the members’ plan.

Thank you to all the sub-Branches who responded to the call to invite our CEO Jon Black to a members’ meeting to receive direct feedback on the proposed plan. He has taken on board many suggestions and ideas. Jon, often with me and other directors, is on the road continuously for the next three and a half months meeting with sub-Branches. There are still a couple of openings for more sessions, so please contact the Support Unit as per my 19 December update – P17/19 if you would like a visit. DCs are also helping coordinate some sub-Branch meetings and this is very welcome.

If any member missed or will miss one of the metro sub-Branch consultation sessions, you are welcome to join Jon Black as follows:

  • Tuesday, 24 March 2020
  • 2:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park South – ground floor auditorium (access via Liverpool Street entry)

Because of capacity and safety, members are asked to please RSVP by 27 February 2020 via email:

Members are asked to provide their full name and best contact details with their RSVP, should they wish to be included.

The schedule the CEO presented last congress is being followed. The draft strategic plan will be settled for presentation to the board in June. Funding and organisation permitting (which is part of the consultation), implementation would be able to commence from July.

Over the coming weeks, communities across the state will be making plans for ANZAC Day. As your sub-Branch prepares, please read the attached letter from myself and Geoff Lee MP, Acting NSW Minister for Veterans, regarding planning for ANZAC Day 2020.

Yesterday marked 78 years since the bombing of Darwin, the single largest attack by a foreign power on Australian soil and the first of many raids to take place over the next nine months. It was a dark day in Australia’s history and one that changed us as a nation forever. Please join me in solemn remembrance of those who lost their lives during this attack.

Finally, on Tuesday I attended the announcement of the Australian team for the Invictus Games to be held in The Hague this May. Congratulations to the veterans and current serving members who will be representing our country during the games. It is truly an honour for these men and women to represent Australia, and we should be proud of their efforts.



Ray James

Acting State President

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