Epping RSL sub-Branch President’s Message, January-March 2017
2016 was the centenary of the formation of The Returned and Services League of Australia in 1916. At such an anniversary it is of interest to contemplate if those young servicemen, who in returning from the ravages of World War 1, having formed themselves into self-help groups or clubs in their home towns or suburbs, would have envisaged that their groups would amalgamate into the Australia wide league of the RSL and their clubs to become sub-branches of the RSL. Could they have envisaged the many and extensive welfare programs for veteran’s health and well-being as well as the diverse programs that also assist facets of their local community that would evolve as activities within the RSL.
Those WW1 diggers have handed the baton of responsibility for the success of the league down to the generations of veterans from that day onward. A collaboration picked up by the WW2 veterans and thence to the veterans of Korean War, Vietnam War Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the many other peace keeping actions across the world and in which Australasians have served. A bond that past and present RSL membership have recognised and built upon ensuring the memory of those that have served their nation, of the thousands that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, a price for peace, are not forgotten.
Of recent days in the media certain allegations of mismanagement of an aspect of the current administration have been made in respect of the current operation of the league. It is imperative that such allegations are determined and if required corrective practices are immediately put in place. The league is a wonderful charity supported by veterans and the RSL membership and the community groups who give of their time and abilities freely in the cause of help to others less fortunate and suffering as a result of past service to our nation.
The challenge for 2017 is to correct any misapprehensions that may exit about our league, to instigate new measures of transparency that will prevent any misunderstandings of years to come. The League strength is in its membership. The new century in the life of the League, and the challenge commencing in 2017, is to make the League as the support medium for the serving and ex-service community. Such a challenge will see significant and innovative restructuring of the established RSL of last century. This year the obligation of the RSL membership is to re-establish its credibility as a nationwide charity which is concerned with the advancement of support programs for the members of the Australian Defence Forces and ex-service members as well as the local communities that supports the hundreds of sub-Branches Australia wide.
The success of the RSL into the next Centenary depends on the succession programs of each sub-Branch which will ensure that the work of the RSL and its role in the lives of service veterans will continue to future generations. To defend the Australian Values of mates helping mates, of charity to others and preserving our national memories and the heritage of the dedication of millions of Australians that have served to maintain our peace and national pride.
Take an interest in your sub-Branch. Be one of the many volunteers who work with its administration and the programs which involve our local community.
John K Curdie OAM