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RSL NSW President Update – 18 April 2019

Fellow members of the League,

Best wishes for this Easter weekend and for your ANZAC Day commemorations next week. I know each and every sub-Branch will have put an immense effort into your event planning and want to thank you for keeping the memory of our fallen comrades alive. I wish you every success. I’m looking forward to our ANZAC events in Sydney and to catching up with a few mates on the day.

After the Dawn Service in Martin Place, we will be hosting an informal gunfire breakfast at ANZAC House with our patron, His Excellency General Hurley AC DSC, Governor of New South Wales. RSL NSW members who wish to attend should RSVP to or call the Support Unit on 1300 679 775 by midday on Wednesday, 24 April 2019. Places are limited and will be allocated to members on a first come, first serve basis.

Last week we launched the ANZAC Day Appeal at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park. My thanks to Damien Thomlinson and Rachel Kerrigan who shared their stories with the media, which you can see here. More than a hundred of our sub-Branches are fundraising for the ANZAC Day Appeal and I thank every one of our volunteers. The money you will raise will help both the local work of our sub-Branches as well as the state-wide work of the RSL DefenceCare team. It has been great to see you on the streets again talking to members of the public and reminding them of why they should support our veteran community.

We’ve had a few issues to deal with in the lead up to ANZAC Day and several sub-Branches who have had to deal with last minute complexities regarding the presence of ADF personnel, or traffic management and hostile vehicle threat mitigation. Where we’ve been able to assist in fixing things up we have, and fortunately in most cases common sense has prevailed. Please send in your photos and stories from ANZAC Day for inclusion in the next Reveille and our social media channels – or post them yourself including the hashtag #ANZACfamily.


Board Activities

The Board will next meet on 24 April and again on 8 May. I will be travelling to visit sub-Branches in the Western District on 1 and 2 May. The group of seven District Council representatives elected at the forum of District Councils earlier this month will meet with the Board the week starting 6 May to progress work on a new members’ constitution. Up first on our agenda will be testing and refining the plan to resume fundraising across all RSL NSW sub-Branches. You can read about other work the Board has been doing on my Facebook page (here), and listen to an interview I did recently on the importance of the RSL and ANZAC Day with the ABC’s Simon Marnie, here (the segment appears about 1 hour, 25 minutes into the recording).


New Directors

Earlier this year the State Secretary called for expressions of interest to fill the casual vacancies created by the resignations of Scott Seccombe and Mick Bainbridge. 18 valid applications were received and the Board’s Nominations Committee (chaired by Greg Makutu), with the assistance of independent advisor David Mortimer AO, shortlisted five excellent candidates for interview. The Board endorsed the Nominations Committee’s recommendation that Phillip Bridie and John Hutcheson be invited to join the Board.

Phillip Bridie joined the Australian Army in 1977 and served as a Regular officer and then as a Reserve officer. He has commanded at all levels, from troop to brigade, and held a variety of staff roles. He left his full-time role in the Army in 1987 and has been in the Standby Reserve since July 2017. His operational experience includes serving as a Deputy Commanding General, US 10th Mountain Division, Regional Command – East in Afghanistan in 2014. He is currently the Honorary Colonel of 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers and an Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General. In his civilian life, Phillip is the Deployed Services Director of Fujitsu Australia Ltd and has been with Fujitsu since 2006. He is also a Director Shareholder in Pacific Boating Group and has previously held Directorships with Chubb Asia Pacific. He is the President of the Castle Hill and District sub-Branch and will step down from this role to join the RSL NSW Board.

John Hutcheson served in the Australian Army for 32 years in a variety of appointments including Army Advisor at the Australian High Commission in London and Director of Studies at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra; as well as on operations as the commander of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2004, and the commander of the International Stabilisation Force in Timor-Leste in 2007. John retired from the regular Army in 2014 and since 2015 he has been the CEO of Legacy Club Services, providing governance, beneficiary and administrative support to a number of Legacy Clubs across NSW. John is a member and former Honorary Secretary of the North Bondi sub-Branch.

On behalf of the Board I thank both the successful and unsuccessful candidates for their willingness to serve the League.

A reminder that the externally-managed recruitment process for Independent Directors continues until 28 April. You can find further details here.



On behalf of all of RSL NSW, I extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the members of our Karuah sub-Branch who suffered the loss of two of their members in a tragic car accident last week. Our thoughts are with you and your families at this painful time, when the importance of community in or League is greater than ever.

I represented RSL NSW in conducting the RSL tribute at the funeral of Ms Daphne Dunne earlier this week. As well as serving in the Second World War, Daphne was a war widow and loyal RSL Auxiliaries member for more than 60 years. We are grateful for her service to Australia and the League, and extend our best wishes to her family.

Once again, both the Board and ANZAC House staff are wishing you all the best for a successful ANZAC Day. I will be privileged and proud to represent you in leading our major commemorative services in Sydney. It will be a day for our entire veteran family to come together, reflect on our service, remember fallen comrades, and recommit ourselves to serving Australia as effectively as we can into the future.

Lest we forget.


James Brown


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