RSL NSW President Update: 17 April 2018
Fellow Members of the League,
It was an honour to present a new charter to members of our Aberdeen sub-Branch on the weekend. They are a fantastic group, led by President Doug McLeod, an infantryman who deployed to Somalia 25 years ago (with his Dad, who served as quartermaster in the same battalion!). The Aberdeen sub-Branch closed down twelve years ago but has been re-established as new veterans have moved to the area. Adam and Sandy Morrison, who met each other whilst serving in the Army as combat engineers, are the treasurer and secretary respectively, and manage their committee duties whilst working and raising two kids. Navy and Air Force are represented on the committee through Gail Little the Vice-President and Mel Bell who serves as trustee. Our research tells us more and more veterans are moving to country towns, and the Aberdeen sub-Branch committee is proof of that – half the executive are new to the town in recent years. It’s another reminder of why we need to help keep our smaller sub-Branches operating. It was a pleasure to meet our members in Aberdeen, visit the Aberdeen RSL Club, and speak with representatives of the Hunter Valley District Council. The sub-Branch will be proudly leading their march and ceremony this ANZAC Day.
Tomorrow we will announce that RSL NSW is officially becoming a partner of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. 112 of our sub-Branches will be supporting the games this ANZAC Day. We can’t legally fundraise in the normal way, for reasons that will be explained in detail at congress, but we can support fundraising for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 which will be a powerful moment for all Australian veterans later this year. The Invictus Games, founded by His Royal Highness Prince Harry, were created to help veterans recover from their physical and mental wounds and to inspire others to follow their example. The theme for the games is “stronger together down under”. The League and Invictus are all about veterans helping veterans. The eyes of the country and the world will be on veterans in Sydney this October, and our members will be right in the centre of the action. Thanks to all of you who are fundraising for this worthy cause, and particularly the Ingleburn Women’s Auxiliary who have spent their last few weekends preparing fundraising tokens to be sent out across the state. We will advise in coming months on how you can get involved in the games, and we are planning ways to bring Invictus to our regional and rural sub-Branches. Our partners at RSL Lifecare are supporting competing athletes in the Australian team who hail from NSW, so the whole RSL NSW family are getting behind the games.
The federal government has announced two major initiatives which we need your views on. The first is an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into “how well the system of compensation and rehabilitation for military veterans (serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members) is meeting its aims, and whether the system is likely to effectively and efficiently support veterans in the future”. We will be meeting representatives of this commission shortly – if you have views on what this study should investigate, please send them to me. Secondly, an independent study has been commissioned into Veterans’ Advocacy Services and will be led by Mr Robert Cornall AO. The future of advocacy services is a critical issue for our members and the government has tasked the inquiry to consider several alternative models going forward. We will be preparing a formal submission to this inquiry and need your views on how the advocacy system can be improved.
We welcome the appointment of Liz Cosson to the position of Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, and look forward to engaging with her to ensure that veterans welfare is prioritised by the government. We also congratulate Lieutenant General Angus Campbell on his appointment as Chief of the Defence Force and thank outgoing Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin for making time in his final weeks to come and address delegates at our State Congress.
Finally, I would also like to add a mention and thank you to those of you who have sent in your photos and stories of what is happening in your area in the build-up to ANZAC Day. Please keep them coming. Send your ANZAC Day photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org