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President Update – 7 January 2020

Dear RSL members,

Like many fellow members, I feel very saddened by the devastating and heartbreaking impacts the bushfires have had on so many communities across New South Wales. And it is heartbreaking to know that the struggle of many communities will continue for weeks and months to come.

Like you, I have observed the impacts and spoken to several members across the state who are suffering through this crisis. While we grapple with this incredible tragedy, we should also be proud of the firefighters and volunteers across the state who are battling against the bushfires; many of them our fellow RSL members.

A special thanks must be given to groups like Merimbula RSL sub-Branch, who rallied together to support a ‘Dunkirk’ operation to relocate residents of RSL LifeCare facility to a safer area, our reservists who have been called out to help, and of course our serving ADF members helping out in this time of need.

While acknowledging the extraordinary resilience of so many, we know there are veterans and veterans’ families who need support in many areas. Before Christmas you were updated on the work being done by RSL DefenceCare to support veterans and their families through the Disaster Assistance Fund with support from sub-Branches across the state (read about it here). While some sub-Branches are reaching out directly to impacted sub-Branches, I do ask that we work together on this, through the Disaster Assistance Fund and RSL DefenceCare, so we can better coordinate our response. Earlier this morning, a communication was sent from RSL NSW CEO, Jon Black, providing information on how sub-Branches and members can support those in need through RSL DefenceCare and the Disaster Assistance Fund (find out how you can help here).

The RSL is part of the fabric of so many communities across Australia, and with typical Australian resilience, it is incredible to see just how many members have offered support during this time of crisis. It is great to see RSL Clubs opening their doors to provide shelter and support in areas such as Mittagong and Merimbula and I must also thank RSL Queensland who have offered support as well. With thousands of families displaced and in need, the collective effort of individuals, groups and organisations is so necessary, and so inspiring.

For communities across the state, the struggle continues. But it is through the strength of mateship that Australian families will come through this tragedy and rebuild. Thank you to everyone who is offering support in any way you can.

We will continue to update you on the work being done by your sub-Branches, members and RSL DefenceCare over the coming weeks and months.



Ray James

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