President Update – 24 October 2019

Dear RSL Members,

We are approaching a solemn time of the year that is very important to us all. As the calendar moves into November our minds shift – even more than normal – to remembrance and Remembrance Day.

This year’s Poppy Appeal will be launching shortly across the state, and our theme this year couldn’t be more focused. We will be sharing stories from a number of veterans who are brave enough to publicly share their story, and encourage as many people as possible to ‘Remember’ – remember not only those who have served, but also those who continue to serve, and those who have returned from service but need our assistance.

It is a timely reminder of what really ties us together. Not just as a League, but as a community, a family.

You will know from your own local work that while some things stay the same, such as the importance of camaraderie and the need to support our fellow veterans and their families, other things are changing. New programs and initiatives that reflect the diversity of needs among the veteran community show us that even within our own work, we can’t stand still and we always need to be open to changing, growing and getting better.

And so it is for our constitution that will be voted upon by sub-Branch delegates on behalf of their members at congress next week.

Some things will never change, most especially that the League is a grassroots, member-driven and member-owned organisation. The power of RSL NSW is in the collective impact of our sub-Branches in local communities across the state, and we should always be looking for ways to ensure members are heard and represented.

It is why the majority of the RSL NSW Board is made up of members, and why the constitution proposes additional powers for members to affect change at board level if their performance is not satisfactory. Members’ rights will always be protected and, as I have said before, are actually being enhanced in this constitution.

And some things will change and grow over time, just like the evolving needs of each generation of veterans. The vote for the constitution next week is not the end of the journey for this important document, far from it. We have referred to it as a ‘living, breathing’ document throughout the course of the year, and should it be successfully voted on next week and implemented from early December, it will still need to evolve over time.

Those attending congress next week will find a familiar format to previous years, including a President’s report from myself, and a Treasurer’s report to go through the finances of ANZAC House. Attendees will hear that despite well-publicised challenges that have affected these finances, we have not stopped the important work we do in supporting veterans and their families. In this sense we share the same challenges of many sub-Branches, and the same commitment to our charitable purpose.

We are all moving towards modernising RSL NSW to reflect the expectations of a charity in modern society. I know it hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes it has in fact been extremely hard.

Our reason for being will never change, but how we fulfil our mission must continue to respond to the needs of veterans. This has been at the very core of our work on the constitution, informing and guiding us every step of the way.

Now, the decision on whether to adopt the constitution is in the hands of you, my fellow members, through the delegates you are sending to congress.

I have said before and it bears repeating: now is the time to come together and focus on the future, to modernise our league while always remembering our roots. I believe this constitution will be the foundation upon which to build our future, and hope that this is also the sentiment of those attending congress on your behalf.

Yours,

Ray James
Acting President

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