RSL NSW President James Brown Responds to Don Rowe Fraud Charges
“RSL NSW welcomes the news that Mr. Don Rowe, our former president has been charged by the NSW Police this morning on two counts of fraud. RSL NSW has been through a difficult time but our members want to know that the people who brought this organisation to its knees will be held accountable. Similarly, the public want to know that anyone who has misused charitable funds will be held accountable as well.
In the past 18 months since Mr. Rowe and other members of the former leadership of this organisation were replaced by a new set of RSL leaders, we’ve taken enormous steps to transform this organisation. ANZAC House, the headquarters of RSL NSW, is an entirely different organisation with professional staff, strong governance processes and strong finance systems.
We’ve addressed not only the immediate problems that allowed Mr. Rowe to take these actions, but also the culture that allowed him to get away with it for so long. We’re fully focused – the Board, the members and staff of this organisation – on getting back to our mission of helping veterans and their families in need and making sure we can help many more. That has been our mission for 100 years and we are making sure that we are here to do that into the future.
In the last six months, we’ve helped a significant number of veterans struggling with drought in NSW particularly. In the last year we have directly helped more than 3,000 military families through our charitable services arm, RSL DefenceCare.
This arrest, this charge, and court case that will follow will be a painful reminder of what has happened, but we’re very confident that we’re starting to put this experience behind us and make sure it won’t happen again.
This organisation has been here for 100 years and is a very important institution. It has been damaged but it will return, and we’ve seen the public and our members work really hard to get us back to where we need to be. Our mission is just as important as it was 100 years ago. Australia needs the RSL to be strong and effective, but it also needs it to be well-governed and transparent.”
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