Epping RSL sub-Branch President’s Message January-March 2019
Following the Bergin Judicial Inquiry into the operations of the RSL NSW State Branch which commenced in 2017, there has been a critical and close evaluation of the current of RSL NSW Constitution to test if it is still relevant to the many regulations that flow from changes in corporate law and various Charities regulations. Such changes may have overtaken the operations of the NSW State Branch and the constitution created under the provisions of the RSLAct of 1935. The NSW State Branch of the RSL is now attempting its restructure itself under the provisions of the new RSL Act of 2018 which was recently gazetted, to commence operations from the 1st of January 2019. That Act will set up the State Branch to operate under the direction of a board of Salaried Directors and support staff, thus replacing all the voluntary work from the RSL Councillors that represented its sub-Branches that was in place since 1916.
At the beginning of November 201 8 there was circulated to all sub-Branches a draft constitution detailing the proposed operations of how State Branch and all sub-Branches would be expected to operate. In early December, at a Special Extraordinary General Meeting, with most of the sub-Branches in NSW in attendance, that draft constitution was overwhelmingly rejected. The clear voice from the "grass roots level" of the RSL that they are not willing to adapt to such a dramatic change to the original concept of the RSL where members worked and gathered together, on a voluntary basis, to apply themselves and their sub-Branch resources, to help mates and fellow veterans and their families through various hard times.
The decisive vote in December last, rejecting that draft, should cause an immediate re-evaluation of the way in which sub-Branches can operate, maintain that appreciation of what the members understand as welfare of veterans and not an academic appreciation what it could be. Such an appreciation between State Branch and its sub-Branches is essential such that its members in hundreds of sub-Branches are prepared to accept. The draft constitution was rejected because the structure detailed therein would mean that RSL sub-Branches could become de facto agencies of the State Branch. Perhaps more like a franchised function of RSL NSW where the operations of every sub-Branch would be choregraphed to the directions of the board of directors which will administer the State Branch as well as controlling all the assets that a sub-Branch may have accumulated by virtue of the stewardship of past members of the sub-Branch.
All RSL members have a serious commitment to understand what we, the RSL, represent. How we can operate in the 21" Century whilst appreciative of the many restrictive responsibilities and covenants in the law that has changed in the past 100 years; yet preserving the heritage left to us by the veterans since World War l. That ethos of service to others, complemented by our personal and voluntary loyalty and the good stewardship of sub-Branch assets to help those in need. Such is the vision of the RSL that will shine into the next 100 years.
John K Curdie OAM