State Secretary Newsletter – 10 April 2019

Dear Members,

 

President Update correction

The President has asked that I correct an important error in his update to members yesterday. The Cumberland sub-Branch, which is based at Auburn, was misnamed as the Auburn sub-Branch while mentioning their generous donation to the Support & Assistance Fund. He has asked me to pass on his sincere apologies for the mix-up.

 

ANZAC Day Enquiries

Please be aware that, after today, there are only eight working days before ANZAC Day. This means that the Sub-Branch & Member Support Unit and switch will be increasingly inundated with enquiries and will take longer before it can respond to each one. As agreed at last week’s meeting of District Council representatives, the District Councils should be your first point of call wherever possible. You will also find a wealth of information on the RSL NSW by clicking here (and the latest update on Sydney ANZAC Day March is available here).

If calling ANZAC House for any reason, please be patient. Leave a message at 1300 679 775 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

 

RSL & Schools Remember ANZAC Commemorative Service

Yesterday the President attended the annual RSL & Schools Remember ANZAC service at the ANZAC Memorial along with His Excellency the Hon. General David Hurley AC DSC, Governor of NSW. Roughly a thousand children from schools across Sydney came to pay their respects and reflect on the service and tremendous sacrifice of current and former Defence personnel. Photos of the service can be found here.

 

Donations to Veteran Sport Australia

For those who received the March update from VSA, you will have seen that Veteran Sport Australia (being part of RSL WBI) is accepting donations, however, the update did not provide details for making donations. Your sub-Branch can contribute to VSA in the following ways:

  • EFT: Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia

BSB: 062 124

Account number: 1122 6906

Reference: “VSA” + your sub-Branch name [as many letters as will fit, or a unique abbreviation]

 

  • Cheque: please make payable to RSL Welfare and Benevolent Institution (RSL WBI) and attach correspondence or mark the cheque to indicate it is specifically intended for VSA.

If you are curious about the work we are doing for veterans young and old through VSA, you can read their previous updates and sign up for new ones here.

 

Fundraising

Given the nature of correspondence currently being received by the Support Unit, it may be helpful at this point to issue a reminder that RSL NSW and its sub-Branches can still not accept money for themselves from the public, either through fundraising or unsolicited donations. All fundraising this ANZAC Day must be conducted through the official ANZAC Appeal, which launches tomorrow (11 April), and whereby sub-Branches and Auxiliaries will be raising funds on behalf of RSL WBI (RSL DefenceCare).

For those sub-Branches participating in the Appeal, please send photos of your members and Auxiliaries in action to news@rslnsw.org.au so we can let the community know through social media about the good work the League is doing.

 

Compliance Training

Members have been asking over the past year for clear guidance from State Branch on the way to properly conduct fundraising and sub-Branch governance. District Council representatives attending ANZAC House last week were informed that preparations are underway to develop a program of simple compliance training for sub-Branch executives and trustees. Details of the training program will be available in coming weeks.

 

RSL DefenceCare Staff

Over the past two weeks I have begun to introduce the staff of the RSL DefenceCare Claims & Advocacy team. Today the Community Support team’s turn begins – half this week, and half next. Community Support assists veterans and their families in illness and crisis, through different avenues including financial and housing support and counselling. Each case is unique and there is nothing they won’t try to help with. If you or anyone you know is struggling with issues that don’t seem to fit, the team’s advice is always just to call.

Megan manages the team, including trustee and statistical reporting and looking after the wellbeing of the team members themselves. Megan was destined for a role like this from a young age – she is driven to help people and solve their problems, and she began her first course in welfare when she was 17. Her father was once President of the Vietnam Veterans St Marys Outpost, and before DefenceCare Megan helped her friend to run their own charity, Kids of Vets. Her nine years with us have allowed her to understand her father better and help him to be more open. For better or worse, Megan’s shrine to Jimmy Barnes survived ANZAC House’s move to George Street last year, and Barnesy gets her through even the toughest days. At home, her husband, son and grandson help her take care of a three-legged dalmatian.

Dave is the primary team member processing requests for financial assistance. He joined the team two years ago after twenty years as a youth worker and drug and alcohol rehabilitation case manager. In these roles he became an expert on his clients, often able to guess their stories before they told them, however, this familiarity had chipped away at his passion and he was at risk of burning out. DefenceCare presented an opportunity to learn about a completely new client group in veterans and their families, and a change of pace away from the long-term engagement of case management work. Dave knows every episode of South Park and the Simpsons backwards, and rides a motorbike to unwind (he’s currently saving for a new one and would welcome donations).

Peter is the counsellor on the team and was profiled in the current edition of Reveille (see pages 32-33). He began his counselling career during his time as a paramedic in the construction industry, where workers would often open up about personal issues and he realised he needed more formal qualifications to give them the help they needed. He volunteered with Lifeline for 25 years before returning to university aged 55 to become a counsellor (feeling very out-of-place in his first week) and working as a cleaner to support his family at the same time. After graduating, he worked with high-needs clients (e.g. ex-prisoners and those suffering homelessness, addiction, or chronic mental health issues) before joining DefenceCare. He feels a connection with his new clients as his father, brothers, nephew and great nephews all served in the British military. Outside of work Peter bakes, sings in an a cappella choir, and presides over weddings and funerals as a celebrant.

Mark is DefenceCare’s welfare officer based at Cumberland sub-Branch. He visits veterans and family members in hospitals and nursing homes across Sydney and beyond, makes referrals to DefenceCare’s Claims & Advocacy team when necessary, organises birthday and bereavement cards, and supports families at funerals. Mark’s career before DefenceCare dealt with youth homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, crisis refuges and chronic mental illness across South Western Sydney. For veterans experiencing isolation, knowing that someone is thinking of them, having someone to ask whether anything is wrong, can be immensely important – welfare officers in the sub-Branch network will understand this well. Mark enjoys knowing he is making that difference for people by ensuring they remain connected. He also plays bass guitar (“I can only count to four”), tinkers with his old Harley, and plays cricket and slot cars with his son.

 

Jeff O’Brien

State Secretary

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