RSL NSW Strategic Plan 2021-2026

The RSL NSW Strategic Plan for 2021 – 2026 is available following extensive interactive consultation with our members and stakeholders across the veteran community.

Our members told us that it is critical for RSL NSW to maintain a presence across the state, modernise and innovate, and reassert itself as the leading advocacy service for Australian veterans in local communities.  It also strongly supported the ongoing custodianship and leadership of commemoration.

ANZAC House, together with The RSL NSW President and Board will work with our network of District Councils and sub-Branches across the state as one RSL to ensure that vision of the plan is realised; by 2026 every veteran in NSW knows what the RSL stands for, what it does, and wants to be involved as a member.

RSL NSW will continue to support all veterans and their families by connecting them to services and their local community, and through camaraderie, mateship, recreation, and commemorating their service.

To find out more about how RSL NSW is strategically investing in the future to proudly maintain its place as the most recognisable and respected community organisation in the nation, click the button below to review the full strategic plan which has been updated in May 2023.

RSL NSW Strategic Plan 2021-2026

For the latest dashboard update on the progress of the Strategic Plan implementation click here. Previous dashboards and task updates provided to the RSL NSW Board can be found below.

RSL members may also join a Reference Group advising on the implementation of strategic plan initiatives, or nominate for one of two vacant positions on the Program Steering Committee overseeing the program implementation. To participate in a reference group or nominate to join the PSC email

Funding the Future

We have now launched the RSL NSW funding model. In the Strategic Plan 2021-26, this funding approach is called the ‘Financial Resource Management Concept’ and is colloquially referred to as the ‘pooled funding model’. The funding model is made up of two parts. The first part is Investment Management, and the second part is the Veteran Support Fund. To see full details visit the Funding the Future page.


RSL NSW Recruitment Plan

We are implementing a Recruitment Plan as a deliverable of the Strategic Plan, primarily encapsulating Goals 3 and 4. The two Goals outline how RSL NSW will grow membership and connect veterans and their families to services. This Recruitment Plan includes initiatives from the Engagement and Membership Projects being delivered under the RSL NSW Strategic Plan 2021-2026 as well as ANZAC House operational activities.

Strategic Plan Implementation Status

Implementation Manual

Reports to the RSL NSW Board

District Rationalisation (initiative 5.10)

Veteran Support Fund

Planning and Consultation

Outcome from Board Strategy Day – 6 February 2020


Continuing to operate under the current business operating model, funded by revenue generated by the Hyde Park Inn and the small investment portfolio, would see ANZAC House unable to continue its operations and deliver the services it currently provides. These services are in excess of the requirements under the RSL NSW Act 2018, and regulators.

These additional services are provided to support the charitable purpose through RSL DefenceCare and VSA, and of course by sub-Branches. These services are deemed essential by the board and include administrative support services such as advocacy, policy, legal, Reveille, accounting, fundraising, events and general membership support and are valued by members, especially by the smaller sub-Branches. Without changing the operating model that relies on donations (not a levy) from sub-Branches, ANZAC House will need to take drastic action to reduce its services and potentially sell assets, such as the Hyde Park Inn; and would not be able to efficiently implement the strategic plan. These actions were not considered acceptable by the board.

Purpose of the Strategy Day

An RSL NSW Board strategic planning day was held on 6 February 2020. The purpose of the strategy day was to determine feasible and acceptable future operating models for RSL NSW. This refers to Initiative 7.2 of the Consultation Draft of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

The National Brand ‘RSL’

The fundamental premise upon which the board considered possible operating models is that RSL is a national brand and therefore, RSL NSW has a duty to ensure the consistency for that brand experience at any location. This pushed the board towards a variation of a centralised system for the delivery of the brand and any associated brand activities or related services.

Therefore, in comparing different operating models, four fundamental considerations had to be met:

  1. RSL is a national brand
  2. Equity in RSL NSW’s service delivery, irrespective of veteran location
  3. Financial viability and the ongoing sustainability of RSL NSW
  4. Requirements of RSL NSW under the 2018 Act

Considering Different Models

The board considered a range of operating models that varied from decentralised through to more centralised approaches. Even to the consideration of a national model in line with the original intent of the RSL when it was established in 1917. Whichever model was chosen it had to support the delivery of RSL NSW’s purpose to support veterans and their families through the implementation of the strategic plan. Read more on the RSL NSW operating models for Strategic Plan 


Above all else, the fundamental consideration of delivering the charitable purpose; the wellbeing of veterans and their families state-wide, dictate that we must evolve the way we operate to ensure the survival of RSL NSW, both for ANZAC House, and our sub-Branches. The board considered that the RSL should maintain a footprint in every community where a veteran resides or is esteemed in history. While many options were considered, a more centralised model equips RSL NSW to effectively deliver on the four fundamental considerations above and deliver on a vision that creates a strong and sustainable future.

View Input from Members

Strategic Plan Budget

The budget estimate can be found at Annexure B of the Strategic Plan.

CEO 2019 Congress Presentations

During 2019 congress RSL NSW CEO Jon Black, presented a strategic plan update including a timeline. This timeline is shown below.

Links to both CEO presentations are also provided.


Congress Q&A

During day three of congress, CEO Jon Black held a membership Q&A session. Membership responses provided valuable input to the planning process. These responses are summarised in the section below.

FAQs about Strategic Plan
Where you advise that the Board has endorsed the budget of $23m, does this mean that the Board has approved the strategic plan?

No. The budget is only endorsed by the Board to enable the CEO to consult with members. The budget breakdown can be seen above under ‘Strategic Plan Budget’.

The budget provides an estimate. If approved in June (after member consultation) all initiatives will be grouped into projects and managed as projects.  It is only at this stage detailed budgets are determined through a ‘business case’ process to the overall Program’s governance committee. (A collection of projects is called a Program).  Therefore actual funding is only approved on the basis of the detailed planning, which includes reporting against milestones, and where identified, benefits realisation.

CEO Q&A Summary from Congress
What does RSL Stand For?

Response: [member quotes]

  • Not just the past, looking to the future and being a support for the future. Be there to provide support and can provide that support.
  • We want to give support, but we don’t know who they are.
  • We do not recruit younger people; we need a strategy to get younger serving members to join the RSL. We have no strategy to get younger members in, we are going to finish up.
  • Need to get into electronic means
  • We are a member-based organisation first and there for support of veterans and families. All those that have ever put on a uniform, that have served.
  • We are there for wellbeing, to look after our people, our commitments, it’s all encompassing.
The images that the public have of RSL NSW are clubs and pokies, old people, veterans and ANZAC day, cheap beer, cheap food. The perception that we are Clubs. Does anyone disagree with that perception?

Response: Member agreement

Response: [member quotes]

  • There are so many different ESOs. Issue is you don’t go to RSL NSW because its RSL, wherever you go in Australia it’s a pokie club.
  • How do we position ourselves in Australia and internationally? Service people working internationally are reaching out for our assistance. Back into the country, they are not joining. They don’t want to join clubs and pokies.
  • We were directed to install pokies to generate income, the clubs are still profiting from that and sub-Branches aren’t.
  • I joined the club thinking I’d joined the RSL, until 2 years ago I didn’t realise I wasn’t a member of the RSL there is a complete disconnect between the RSL and the club. This needs to be addressed.
In the 2017 Member Survey, members stated ageing membership as their biggest concern. Why do we want members?

Response: Member agreement

Response: [member quotes]

  • Need to say you are there to provide service.
  • Ask not what your country can do for you, what can I do for my country. Seeding membership, people who can help other veterans, to help those less fortunate than us.
  • We’ve got this the wrong way around, what do new members want from us?
  • People say how do I have young fellas in my sub-Branch. We go to them, I see other ESOs like Soldier On, but I don’t see RSL there. We fund training positions; they can see they can get something if they come to us.
  • Service members, seen as being a part of us. We can smooth transition no matter where we are. Portable membership.
Do we want to be a charity?

Response: Member agreement that we do.

Could RSL LifeCare be a model that could be expanded?

Response: Member agreement

Response: [member quotes]

  • The geographical issue. Our pension officers are aging and not transitioning well to the qualification requirements. Face to face has its benefits, my only hesitation would be how we manage face to face remotely.
  • We are comfortable that RSL LifeCare is centrally located in Sydney, we need hubs for geographies. We were happy to pay for paid advocates.
Why do we want to fundraise?

Response: [member quotes]

  • We are doing the work of DVA, people put claims in, we need to advocate.
  • Fundraising is a big bugbear; we need look at what Queensland is are doing.

Board Approved Strategic Themes Plan


Timeline Outlining Actions and Status

1. Strategic pillars, focus and actions (member’s initial input)
Status: Complete


2. Incorporate RSL NSW Charitable Objects – from the constitution
Status: Complete


3. Review Vision – does it fit with Charitable Objects?
Status: Complete


4. Incorporate approved strategic pillars and actions into distinct goals
Status: Complete


5. Clearly defined and measurable objectives to achieve
Status: Complete


6. Clearly describe the outcomes to be achieved by successful implementation of objectives
Status: Complete

7. Develop options on how to organise RSL NSW to implement the objectives
Status: Complete


8. Seek board agreement for face to face membership consultation on Draft Plan including options for implementation.

Detail of actions to achieve objectives
Set progress measures and reporting
Agree budget to implement

Status: Complete


9. Finalise the Plan
Status: Complete


10. Submit to the board for approval by June 2020 (noting State-Wide) consultation process
Status: Complete


11. Commence implementation FY 20/21
Status: Pending