James Brown

Statement by RSL NSW President James Brown

Fellow members of the league

For the past two years I have been working for the RSL full-time as a volunteer, at the expense of other professional employment. While it has been an absolute privilege to represent you and work to repair RSL NSW, for a veteran with a young family it is not sustainable in the long term.

We have been through a significant period of upheaval – the most challenging in our 102-year history. The revelations from the Bergin Inquiry needed to be met head on and required hard work to survive the inquiries and investigations with our charitable status intact.

As a result of the challenges we have faced, my time as President has been less ceremonial and more executive and “hands on” than the role has been historically. This necessitated me resigning from my paid employment early in my Presidency.

Without the significant support, personal sacrifice, and good grace of my wife Daisy it would not have been possible to fulfil my RSL duties. I want to publicly acknowledge her contribution to enabling me to advocate on behalf of the members of RSL NSW and Australia’s veterans and families.

The long overdue reform and modernisation process our members have begun has some way to go. Together we have raised standards of governance and professionalism, navigated police and judicial inquiries, restored fundraising at a local level, given veterans and their families a bigger voice, started work to improve veterans affairs policy, and begun training and supporting sub-Branches and members.

We now have a strong, representative, and professional board that includes four representatives from regional and country areas as well as two independent directors. Our hardworking ANZAC House staff are doing things the right way, even when that is tough. We are listening to members and keeping faith with our grassroots origins and proud history of service and camaraderie. I firmly believe these reforms, the new member-drafted constitution amendments, and the forthcoming strategic plan will put us on a sustainable footing to continue the important work we do for veterans and their families into the future. By returning focus to the mission of the RSL we have restored the integrity of ANZAC House and the well-earned reputation of RSL NSW. The public trusts our commitment to reform.

There are an enormous number of people I wish to thank for their support and contributions over the past two years, and I intend to do so fully at a more appropriate time. For now, let me thank each of you for your commitment to our great organisation, and for the tremendous honour of being your President.

RSL NSW media contact: David Wolf 0411 111 787 david@closer.com.au

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