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State Secretary Newsletter – 2 August 2019

Dear Members,


New Website Live

Many will already have seen the updated RSL NSW website, which went live this week. It should make finding information and resources much easier, while presenting a more accurate and polished representation of the work the League does at all levels. A guide to the new site is available on the home page (or by clicking here).

Relaunching a website is a large undertaking. There are still a few minor issues to be ironed out, and improvements will be added over the coming weeks. Please let us know if you do find problems – I appreciate your patience as we fine tune. Once things have settled, we will be seeking members’ feedback through a survey in a future newsletter. If you have any questions or suggestions in the meantime, please contact the Support Unit at

One aim of the new website is to promote the League to newcomers. If your sub-Branch runs a program or event aimed at younger veterans, please send us stories and high-resolution photos to help us highlight to those leaving defence what we can do for them.


Governance Training

Thanks to all sub-Branch executives and trustees who have already participated in governance training sessions across much of the state. I have heard lots of positive feedback so far. Last week the training team travelled from Singleton and Cardiff to Sawtell. Next week they will be in Dubbo, Parkes and Bathurst. You can see the training schedule in the Members’ Suite on the new website (scroll down on the home page, or click here).


Sub-Branch Visits

Acting President Ray James and independent director David Bell will also be in Dubbo for the Western District Council meeting this Sunday. On the same day, Bryan Slattery and independent director Sophie Ray will be at the Central Southern District Council meeting at Shoalhaven Heads. I encourage all sub-Branches in these districts to send a representative – particularly if your members have questions, concerns or suggestions about the League and the draft constitution. Contact details for District Councils are available on the RSL NSW website (click here).

Last month, Ray James spent considerable time at sub-Branches in the Hunter Valley and north coast, and will be visiting several sub-Branches in western Sydney later this month. Next weekend he and director Jonathan Tuckfield will be at the South Western District Council meeting in Cowra, followed by a constitution workshop in Wagga Wagga with surrounding sub-Branches.

I was in Byron Bay with Bryan Slattery yesterday speaking with members from the Far North Coast District Council. I found this enormously helpful for perspective on which issues members really care about. Bryan and I will be holding another workshop in Deniliquin with Riverina District Council sub-Branches later in August.

In each case above, I’d like to thank the District Council Presidents and Secretaries for helping to organise these meetings and workshops, and spreading the word to their sub-Branches. I appreciate it’s not easy getting so many people from across a wide area in one room at relatively short notice, and their efforts make a big difference in strengthening the consultation process.

We have been seeking to reach sub-Branches that requested a visit as a priority. If your sub-Branch has not already requested a visit but would like one, please contact the Support Unit at and we will do our best to reach you.


Constitution Corner

Once again, thank you to all members for your feedback on the draft constitution. Over this month we will be providing responses and outcomes for the feedback received on each section of the draft. These will be posted to the RSL NSW website, alongside the feedback itself.

I will be using this section of the newsletter each week to address common concerns, suggestions and misconceptions about the draft constitution that we are receiving from members. This week, I would like to address concerns over the proposed District Presidents’ Council (DPC) (draft clauses 12.37-12.61). This body was conceived in partnership with the DC7 sub-committee elected by the District Council Forum in April. When considering the document, members should be aware that this body is neither a new body nor an extra layer of bureaucracy. Rather, it is the vesting of additional powers in the hands of existing District Councils through their respective Presidents (who are themselves accountable to their sub-Branches) to hold the board accountable. Most notably, under the new constitution the District Councils would meet regularly with the Board and have the ability to call an Extraordinary Congress with a vote of 66% of their number.

Of course, I encourage members still to pass on thoughts and suggestions on the DPC and any other aspect of the draft constitution. I do hope that this provides some clarity, however.


District Council Engagement

At the District Council Forum held with Presidents and Secretaries from across the state last month, we heard the high-level concerns from sub-Branches. One outcome of that meeting was the suggestion that term limits should be consistent for both board directors and District Council Presidents – both at nine years. This makes sense, and is now under consideration by the drafting team.

Members should also be aware that, upon the next elections (if the new constitution is passed), time already served will be counted towards the term limits for board directors but will not be counted for District Council Presidents. So a board director who has already served a term of three years may only serve an additional six years if they choose to stand at the next election. However, a District Council President may serve an additional nine years beginning at the next election regardless of the length of time they have already served in the role. This will avoid prematurely forcing out those willing to serve on District Councils – roles that are often difficult to fill.

For those members with reliable internet connections, we are posting a series on the RSL NSW Facebook page of videos recorded with attendees to the District Council Forum last month. This week was one of myself – you can view it here.


Strategic Plan Online

At the District Council Forum, the board also committed to consult with sub-Branches and members on the RSL NSW Strategic Plan currently being prepared. The preparatory presentation on the strategic plan shown at the forum was sent to District Councils last week and is now available on the Constitution 2019 page of the RSL NSW website (click here). Please note that this is not the strategic plan itself but rather a presentation outlining the thinking behind a future plan. The strategic plan itself will be a single page document.

As with the draft constitution, please send all feedback to your District Councils in the first instance – they will compile feedback from across their districts and send it to us.


Congress Motions Deadline

All members should be aware that the agenda for congress closes on 20 August 2019 – ten weeks before the AGM (set for 29 October) as per the amended By-Law 11. All motions need to be submitted to District Councils for endorsement and then received by State Branch no later than this date.


Lawn Bowls

State Branch has been in discussion with the NSW RSL Lawn Bowls Association for some time. I can now confirm that it is compliant with Condition 3 of By-Law 22 for a sub-Branch to contribute to the NSW RSL Lawn Bowls competition or to support attendance at zone competitions by an individual competitor who is a member. Sub-Branches can find a list of approved charitable organisations at the bottom of the Budget Forms page on the new RSL NSW website (click here).


Jeff O’Brien
State Secretary

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