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President Update – 9 October 2019

Dear RSL Members,

I am fortunate in my role to be able to travel extensively throughout the state, and while I am often called upon to represent the League at a wide range of formal occasions, it is often what I see and hear outside of these events that continues to remind me of just how great our League is. The care and concern shown from one member to another, the extensive and diverse range of programs crucial to so many local communities, and most importantly the camaraderie and goodwill shared amongst so many, so consistently. It is something of which we should all be proud.

We will soon be coming together at congress to make some important decisions, and naturally I hope that one such decision is to support the constitution proposed after almost a year of debate and discussion.

Part of this year-long process has been a commitment from ANZAC House to always be consultative and open in our approach to the new constitution and particularly in sharing information.

I am often asked about the RSL NSW Act 2018, which is regularly cited in our many and varied initiatives in recent times, including of course discussions around the constitution. Given the significance of the proposed legislative changes, RSL NSW was approached by the state government to work with legislators who themselves had little understanding of our League’s operations. We are proud to have been able to provide guidance that was considered in the broader development of the Act, as ultimately the Act’s main purpose is the protection of the League and its members into the future. Of course, a much worse outcome would have come from RSL NSW having no input at all. We do not see the Act as an impediment, but rather an outcome of the Bergin inquiry that has provided a foundation piece on which to rebuild our League and ensure its future.

The Act, as passed by parliament, sets the boundaries for everything we do and how we will work into the future, which is why it is so important that our ways of working adhere with, and are complementary to, this important document.


Sub-Branches Supporting sub-Branches

As we all look forward to congress, I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank those sub-Branches that have graciously contributed to the Support & Assistance Fund. It is solely through these contributions that a wide cross-section of sub-Branches will be provided funding to attend congress and have their voices heard. This is what makes us a League.

These sub-Branches are:

  • Ashfield RSL sub-Branch
  • Ballina RSL sub-Branch
  • Bass Hill RSL sub-Branch
  • Batlow RSL sub-Branch
  • Campsie RSL sub-Branch
  • Cardiff RSL sub-Branch
  • City of Bankstown RSL sub-Branch
  • City of Parramatta RSL sub-Branch
  • Combined Services RSL sub-Branch
  • Coogee Randwick Clovelly RSL sub-Branch
  • Cumberland RSL sub-Branch
  • Dee Why RSL sub-Branch
  • Doyalson/Wyee RSL sub-Branch
  • Eastern Metropolitan District Council
  • Forestville RSL sub-Branch
  • Huskisson RSL sub-Branch
  • Malabar RSL sub-Branch
  • Maroubra RSL sub-Branch
  • Merewether-Hamilton-Adamstown RSL sub-Branch
  • Oatley RSL sub-Branch
  • Roseville RSL sub-Branch (funds left over after the closure of the sub-Branch)
  • Toukley RSL sub-Branch
  • Wagga Wagga RSL sub-Branch

The ongoing generosity of these sub-Branches and their members means that we can come together at the end of the month for this important annual occasion. I hope you will join me in sincerely thanking them for their willingness to support the fund.


Renewing RSL National

Our new CEO Jon Black and I recently attended the RSL National AGM and Board Meeting. As members would be aware, like the NSW State Branch, the National headquarters was subjected to a significant investigation into its governance practices. One outcome of that investigation was the appointment of three appropriately skilled, independent directors, including one as chairman, to oversee the organisation which is a company limited by guarantee.

The President of RSL National, Greg Melick AO RFD SC, is a director but is not the chairman of the board, as the roles are quite distinct. For example, it will be critical for the chairman to have a detailed knowledge of the board’s legal and other obligations.

The members of the RSL National company are the RSL state branches, including RSL NSW. It is important for RSL NSW to have a seat at the table because RSL National has a critical role in influencing federal government policy decisions that impact on veterans and their families. The RSL National also owns the RSL trademark—our brand. The new RSL National Constitution is on their website (click here), and the RSL National Board will in due course consider a strategic plan.

We intend to consult with you, our members, on the draft plan, so RSL NSW can state its position on the operation of RSL National. Its strength will be obtained by all state branches agreeing on priority issues to be advocated to government. A strong membership will mean greater access and influence, and we will continue to keep you informed in this important area.


Helping Veterans

As I started this update with my thoughts from visiting many of you around the state, I will finish on perhaps the most important update of all – the impact RSL NSW has had through RSL DefenceCare in the past few months thanks to the generous support of sub-Branches and donations from members and the general public.

In the last quarter, July to September, DefenceCare was able to:

  • assist 24 veterans experiencing homelessness;
  • provide $235,391 in financial assistance, including $12,000 in drought assistance;
  • help 186 veterans to lodge 570 claims with DVA;
  • provide 30 counselling sessions to 12 people; and
  • make 61 visits to homes and hospitals, seeing 40 people.

When added to the important work taking place every day through sub-Branches across the state, our total impact is great indeed.

Of course, we can all agree that this work is never ending and there is so much more to be done. As such I urge you to read more about this important work on the RSL NSW website (click here), and if your sub-Branch would like to make a financial contribution please contact us and we can guide you through the process.

This work also reminds us that we have so much more in common than anything that could possibly divide us. We will on occasion have robust and difficult conversations, however the bigger picture is undoubtedly an unwavering commitment to honour and support our fellow veterans, both now and into the future.

It is what makes our League truly unique.


All the best,

Ray James
Acting President

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