The Future of the RSL

As we look forward to the future of The League it often pays to reflect on writings of the past. In an eight page supplement to The Daily Telegraph published on Monday, October 29, 1962, the State President, William (later Sir William) Yeo, is quoted as saying “On an actuarial basis, 1973 is estimated as our peak year for service to ex-servicemen. From then on it will decline as our membership falls due to death.” 

William Yeo then went on to say, “This is why we plan to do something for the new generation.” That new generation he spoke of then, were the Korean War veterans who were starting to join The League in some numbers in 1950’s.

Only a couple of years later we would find our forces in Malaya for the emergency there and the Indonesian Confrontation. There could have been no sense that our forces would be committed in strength in Vietnam, nor could there be any concept of the Gulf War, our need to intervene in Timor Leste or the “War on Terror”, however Mr Yeo’s prediction that we must look after a new generation holds true today.

The Returned and Services League of Australia has been and will continue to be a force for good in this country. We are often seen as a “watch-dog” for Australian values forged by blood, sweat and tears and we will continue to live by our motto, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

The League will soon celebrate a Centenary of Service to our members and indeed Australian society. While we all hope and pray that the young men and women of our Defence Forces are never again thrown into the furnace of war, we will continue to lobby governments for a strong and well prepared Army, Navy and Air Force and we will continue to fight for fair and just benefits for those who serve and just as importantly for their families.

The League will continue its work for many decades to come and we will continue to be seen as the leading Ex-Service Organisation in Australia. We have a great opportunity to showcase to the Australian public and potential new members that we look after our own and it is vital that along with State Branch every RSL sub-Branch does its part to convey a message of service. The RSL’s centenary is perhaps just the first chapter in an even longer period of service. 

The challenge facing us as an organisation, is our ability to welcome our veterans from more recent conflicts and our ex-service men & women from the long peace. It is incumbent on all members of RSL sub-Branches across this great state of ours to not only extend the hand of friendship but to smile & welcome our brothers & sisters who have worn their country’s uniform. 

Our future strength starts with you.