RSL NSW President Update: 29 November 2017


Fellow members of the League,


This past week has been busy; last Wednesday I convened District Council Presidents for our monthly teleconference. This is an opportunity for me to brief District Council Presidents on important developments, and for them to ask me questions, or provide feedback regarding issues that are important at district level. These phone calls also provide a valuable opportunity to share information between districts. In last week’s call we discussed the difficulties some sub-branches are having with new budget templates as well as the need to remember that most of our sub-branches are very small and have very few resources to devote to administration issues. We have commenced the process to bring on additional resources at State Branch level to support smaller and remote sub-branches. Also, to improve the flow of information across the League, we will now be recording the monthly teleconference with District Council Presidents and posting it to the members only section of the RSL website, so that all members can hear the issues discussed and the questions asked.

We have been working hard on progressing a solution to our current fundraising problems and believe we will shortly be in a position to outline the arrangements for Anzac Day 2018. RSL NSW, WBI, and RSL Lifecare must also provide an information update on our reform efforts to the Charitable Fundraising Inquiry by Tuesday next week - that has been consuming the attention of State Council and State Branch staff. With the State Secretary, I have begun to look at the arrangements for next year’s Sydney Anzac Day March. We have also been working on the Anzac House Trust arrangements and analysing the best location for the future HQ for NSW (Anzac House was sold last year, and State Branch is currently leasing a space in the building).

Last Friday I was privileged to meet General Stanley McCrystal, the former Commander of the United States Joint Special Operations Command and former Commander of Allied troops in Afghanistan. Also on Friday I met with Professor David Forbes and Professor Richard Bryant from the Centenary of Anzac Centre for veteran mental health ( David and Richard are the leading experts on post-traumatic stress in Australia and we discussed how RSL NSW can be more closely engaged with their work. Yesterday I met with the Consul-general of Greece, Dr Stavros Kyrimis, to discuss his commemoration program for 2018.

Earlier this year State Council resolved that all councillors must complete the company directors course conducted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, so that councillors are better informed of their governance responsibilities. I have been completing this course one day per week for the past month along with fellow councillor Bryan Slattery. Other councillors have already completed the course, and two councillors started an intensive five-day version of the course this week.

As you know, RSL NSW is the controlling entity of the aged care and retirement living charity RSL Lifecare. As President of RSL NSW I also have the option to be a director of RSL Lifecare and am currently serving on the board with fellow councillors Bryan Slattery and Brad Copelin. We have done considerable work this week analysing the future of RSL Lifecare, as well as working to resolve a number of the issues that the Bergin Inquiry has highlighted regarding RSL Lifecare’s governance and operations. I expect to be able to brief you on changes taking place within RSL Lifecare in the near future. I undertook last week to outline to you the major components of RSL NSW, and how they function. I will wait until arrangements with RSL Lifecare are confirmed before updating you on the various companies and trusts that RSL NSW is currently responsible for.

Resignation from the board of RSL National (RSL Australia Limited)

With the endorsement of State Council, I resigned as a director of RSL National effective 28th November 2017.

I have taken this step because I do not agree with the current direction being taken by RSL National on a number of matters and I do not believe that the current approach of the RSL National board to such matters allows me to properly fulfil my obligations as a director. I must also give priority to the reforms necessary here in RSL NSW.

Bronson Horan, the President of RSL SA, also resigned from the national board this morning.

Notwithstanding my resignation, RSL NSW remains a member of the company RSL Australia Limited. The vacancy created by my resignation can only be filled by a representative of RSL NSW, as nominated by us.

Thousands of RSL volunteers across Australia work hard every day to help veterans and their families in need. They deserve nothing less than accountable and transparent leadership at the national level.

Next State Council meeting

The next State Council meeting will be on Monday, 18 December. Please ensure you have any RSL Custodian matters submitted, with full information, at least 11 days prior to that meeting so that they can be properly considered. We will also be resolving a way forward on the strategic direction of RSL NSW, and also considering the future arrangements for RSL Youth Clubs, Day Clubs, and Women’s Auxiliaries. Please keep your good ideas coming on things the League needs to be doing next year and in the decade ahead.

Thanks for your work on behalf of the League,

James Brown