News - James Brown speaking

RSL NSW President Update: 8 February 2018

Fellow League Members,

Welcome back.

I hope you have all enjoyed a good break and are ready to get back to supporting veterans and their families. This will be an important year for veterans in Australia, as we remember the centenary of the WWI Armistice, mark the final year of commemorations for the Centenary of ANZAC, and look forward to the Sydney Invictus Games.

Last Monday I attended the funeral of Amy Taylor AM, who served with the Army in Papua New Guinea during WWII, was the first traffic policewoman in Sydney, and was a representative on the RSL NSW State Council, as well as a vibrant member of the League for nearly 70 years. Amy was an active member of the Combined Services sub-Branch, and their secretary Angie Valentine-Flint delivered a superb RSL tribute to Amy on the day. As we look forward to progressing the League it’s also critical to acknowledge those who have laid the foundation of the RSL in past decades. The service and stories of our members like Amy make us what we are. I’m grateful to Amy’s family and friends for allowing me to share in the celebration of her life.

Over the summer break, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to and visit several sub-Branches. This month I, and the rest of State Council, will be attending a number of District Council meetings around the state to meet members and listen to your feedback on the recently released strategic directions paper. Last week I attended the Western Metropolitan District Council meeting at Concord along with Bryan Slattery; Mick Bainbridge and Robyn Collins attended the Central Southern District Council meeting at Woonona-Bulli, and Ray James attended the Western District Council meeting at Dubbo. I will be in Cootamundra this weekend, and Holbrook and Wagga Wagga next weekend. Come and say hello, even if you aren’t a district council delegate.


Australia Day Honours 2018

While there is no doubt that 2018 will be a challenging year for us, we can all take enormous pride in the work that we undertake. Often this work happens with little public recognition. This makes the recognition of 14 of our members in the recent Australia Day Honours noteworthy. Please join me in congratulating members who received awards. Honourees include:

Captain John Philip Stevenson from our Bowral sub-Branch was awarded a Member(AM) in the General Division of the order of Australia for significant services to naval veterans through a range of roles.

Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division were awarded for service to veterans and their families:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Philip Gavan Badcock, Mittagong sub-Branch
  • Mr John Thomas Baron, City of Liverpool sub-Branch
  • Mr Theodorus Gerrardus Dechaufepie, Ingleburn sub-Branch
  • Mr Stephen Marsden Emerson, City of Fairfield sub-Branch
  • Mr Albert Edward Fish, St Marys sub-Branch
  • Mr Stephen Leslie Hicks, Nelson Bay sub-Branch
  • Mr Gregory William Laird, Port Macquarie sub-Branch
  • Mr Bruce Gordon McKenzie, Kyogle sub-Branch
  • Mr Peter Edward McMahon, Cooma Monaro sub-Branch

Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division were awarded for service to veterans and their families and to their community:

  • Ms Pamela Richardson, community of Mascot. Mascot sub-Branch
  • Mr Robert Lee Denner, community of Dorrigo. Dorrigo sub-Branch

Medal (OAM)of the Order of Australia in the General Division were awarded to:

  • Squadron Leader Rodney Brian Kinnish for service to the community of Evans Head. Woodburn Evans Head sub-Branch
  • Mr Neville Kenneth Barnier for service to people with a disability, and to the community of Penrith. City of Penrith sub-Branch


The Charitable Fundraising Inquiry

We expect to receive the report of Justice Bergin very soon and anticipate that this will create another period of intense media scrutiny for RSL NSW. We will work quickly to make sure that members are kept up to date and across the report and our media response.


State Council Meetings, Committees, and Minutes

State Council will likely conduct several special meetings throughout February to consider the findings of the Charitable Fundraising Inquiry. There is a two-day State Council meeting scheduled for 7 and 8 March at which State Council will consider feedback on the strategic directions paper from members, progress of the constitution review, as well as the audited financial statements for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

State Council minutes have not been posted to the website for the past three months. Previously, State Council minutes simply recorded resolutions voted upon and there was no visibility of discussions held by the council or issues raised. We have moved to a system of more detailed minuting of State Council meetings, as well as a more rigorous decision-making progress. Decisions to be made by State Council are now supported by detailed board papers, which include greater detail and financial and risk analysis. However, as we are dealing with a range of sensitive issues some of this detail is not suitable for wide publication. We are seeking advice from our new Company Secretary on the best way to balance the need for transparency to members with the necessary confidentiality of some aspects of these meetings.

State Council has reviewed and updated its committee structure to reflect modern practice, the needs of a complex and large organisation, and our strategic direction.


State Congress

State Congress will be held from 21-23 May 2018 in Albury. Monday 21 May will be dedicated to information sessions and a veterans’ forum, with presentations by a number of speakers and opportunities for members to ask questions regarding the new constitution and strategic plan. There will be a League Awards dinner on the Monday night. Tuesday 22 May will see the formal opening of congress, a remembrance service, and the annual general meeting which will continue to Wednesday 23 May if required. We look forward to welcoming all delegates and will issue further instructions on the congress agenda in the coming months.

As members are aware, By-Law 11 item 22 states that the ‘closing date for receipt of motions from any source for consideration by the State Congress Agenda Committee shall be the first day immediately following the conclusion of the February State Council meeting’. In previous years the February State Council meeting was held on the last Friday of that month however given the demands placed on State Council by the release of the Bergin Report and the focus on visiting members to discuss the strategic directions paper, State Council will not meet until the first week of March. As such and in keeping with the intent of the By-Law we will issue a directive next week which sets Wednesday 28 February 2018 as the closing date for receipt of motions for consideration by the State Congress Agenda Committee.


Sub-Branch News and Events

There is no doubt this is going to be a busy year for all of us in the League. All of you will be organising your own meetings to connect with interesting and influential people and plan activities for the year. Working together as a league is a key strategic objective and one that requires us all to actively engage with each other. We want to showcase and share more of the work that goes on in sub-Branches. We intend to distribute this widely and in a range of different ways. Please let us know when you have VIPs visiting, tell us about your events and projects that you are working on. We are also interested in things that you are trialling or have trialled, successful or not. These provide important learning opportunities for us all. Your news can be sent to

We anticipate the first edition of Reveille for the year will be published in mid-March.


ANZAC Day Fundraising

The ban on fundraising remains in place until we can review and act on the recommendations of the Bergin Inquiry. Once these recommendations have been analysed, I will update you on fundraising.

Thank you for your work on behalf of the League.


James Brown

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