Board Communiqué for 24 August 2023
The Board met in person in Sydney. Due respects to the fallen were made by the President, including the recent tragic loss of the four army personnel in Queensland. The Chair acknowledged Country.
After a selection process including two rounds of interviews with an interview panel consisting of two RSL NSW Directors and the President of the District President’s Council, the preferred candidate was presented to the Board for approval in accordance with the Constitution. The preferred candidate was unanimously recommended by the interview panel, from around 80 applicants who applied for the role.
The Board will advise the members of the outcome as soon as the necessary process, administration, and documentation are completed.
The President briefed the Board on his observations and extensive member feedback from phone calls and visits around the State. Areas of interest included:
- Meetings with Federal and State Ministers and other MPs about veterans’ issues and seeking support for the State-wide ‘hub and spoke’ veteran support model.
- The President had attended over 20 sub-Branch and District meetings and passed on feedback from members. He said there is very good support for the growth in membership and improved understanding and support for the Veterans Support Fund, which enables the RSL to communicate more effectively who we are, what we stand for, and what we do. This in turn is creating a significant turnaround in awareness in the veteran and wider community.
- The President noted that many sub-Branches have significant major anniversaries approaching, particularly 100 years.
- He noted ongoing concerns with managing conflicts of interest and duties with many sub-Branch office holders still holding associated club roles, and sub-Branch trusteeships. This is often connected with sub-Branches not having robust succession plans for Office Bearers.
- He has received feedback to push on quickly with District Council rationalisation, so sub-Branches can receive the benefits of administrative support for their volunteers and assist in meeting their growing compliance requirements.
- The President also passed on feedback about the value of direct briefings on matters impacting sub-Branches as Circulars can be over-whelming, especially during the time of Strategic Plan implementation.
- He thanked the Board for the support he has received from directors during his tenure as President, noting it would be his last full board meeting prior to the AGM after which he stands down.
RSL Australia Ltd (National)
RSL Australia Director, Mr Bryan Slattery, provided a report to the Board about the outcomes from the recent RSL Australia Board meeting. Key points were that:
- RSL Australia is moving to the third ESO forum facilitated by the RSL aiming to realise the potential to establish a ‘peak body’ for the ESO sector.
- RSL Australia has concerns about ‘fee for service’ organisations fleecing vulnerable veterans.
- The RSL Australia Board approved a new national strategic plan subject to minor amendments and then passed it to members (State Branches) for approval.
- The RSL Australia Board approved the progress beyond the pilot stage of the Catalogue of Services project but has requested a re-tender for the platform and has asked RSL NSW to lead the next phase of the project, including project management.
The CEO’s report, including the CFO and Program Management Office (PMO) reports were discussed, and noted, as were issues and actions to be taken, including:
- Progress with sub-Branch office bearer training, and plan to transition to BAU to ensure ongoing training, development and support to the volunteer office bearers.
- Progress with Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs – RSL LifeCare, with RSL NSW support, has been successful with applications for the Tweed, Hunter, and Queanbeyan hubs, with further stakeholder engagement being coordinated with District and sub-Branch representatives to progress to the business case stage. Also, after receiving an invitation from DVA, applications for grants for a hub on the Central Coast and the Hawkesbury region (connected to a location in SW Sydney too) have been lodged.
- A volunteer compensation and wellbeing advocate forum is being planned for Sydney on 17 October, to ascertain what support can be designed and delivered to support the volunteers (noting the 2023 update to Strategic Plan).
- 14 operational areas’ strategic risk assessments were noted.
CFO Report and Business Performance Report
The Board noted the interim June 2023 results which delivered a surplus excluding any extraordinary items. The audited financial statements will be presented to the Board for approval on 21 September and presented to the members at the 2023 AGM.
The Development Application for the Hyde Park Inn was approved in July 2023. The settlement is progressing in line with the terms of the contract for sale.
MATTERS FOR DECISION:
MOU with Legacy Club Services and RSL LifeCare
The Board approved an MOU with Legacy Club Services and RSL LifeCare to streamline and avoid duplication of services.
The Board noted an update on incorporation including a review of all the factors why incorporation as an association is not currently an option. The Board noted that an amendment to State legislation is required to address the membership matter and the previously noted reasons why this model for incorporation is not optimal, including protection of assets and the ability to alter the association’s constitution (charitable purpose). Work will continue to enable this option, but as there is SOP 13 and the ability to incorporate, it is not deemed a priority.
The Board approved the incorporation of:
- North Bondi RSL sub-Branch
- Corrimal RSL sub-Branch, and
- Sussex Inlet RSL sub-Branch
The Board acknowledged the hard work undertaken by these sub-Branches to achieve this important milestone, and the support provided by ANZAC House to ensure the approvals.
Policy and Procedures
The Board approved a revised Complaints Policy and corresponding Procedure (only applies to State Branch and Directors) and approved the updated Board Charter, Letter of Appointment (Consent to Act for Directors), a director specific Code of Conduct and Deed of Access and Indemnity.
The Board approved the amended SOP 07 (Accounts, Financial Management and Expense Reimbursement), acknowledging the approval of the DPC.
Public Position Statements
The Board supported a change to its Public Position Statement with respect to employees working on ANZAC Day. It added support for ANZAC Day to be a full public holiday, aligned with other States.
Appointment to RSL NSW Tribunal
The Board agreed on a recommendation from the Tribunal Chair to appoint two additional members:
- Mr Glenn Wall
- Ms Deborah Shepard
RSL LifeCare Report
The Corporate Representative updated the Board on all matters. Directors noted the importance of the relationship for continuing success for achieving the aligned charitable purposes.
Young Veterans Committee – new Committee Members
The Board approved four new members, with one reserve. They will be named after they are individually informed, and the 22 unsuccessful candidates informed.
The draft was approved, pending addition of Financial Statements once received and approved on 21 September.
Delegation Register amendment
The Board approved one change to the CEO’s delegation, regarding incorporation.
National AGM and Board
The Board approved/supported three motions for consideration at the National AGM on 28 September:
- To enable Military Working Dogs (e.g. Explosive Detection Dog) to hold honorary RSL Membership.
- Constitutional amendment to better align the role of ‘National RSL; and
- Supported the RSL Victoria motion that seeks to enable Members (State Branches) to appoint independent directors, rather than the RSL National Board.
The Board thanked and acknowledged Mr Bryan Slattery’s Directorship of the RSL Australia Board which ends after the AGM and agreed to make temporary new appointments to the RSL Australia Board as RSL NSW’s representative because RSL NSW will have a new Board in near future:
- Mr Neil James will move from alternate director to director
- Mr Ray James, OAM will be alternate director
District Presidents’ Council (DPC) Report
The Board considered and noted the Report, commenting on the excellent efficacy of the summarised outcomes. The Board acknowledged and thanked the DPC Chair and all DC Presidents for their ongoing commitment and the importance of their role, particularly the critical member feedback.
Appointment of Director to RSL Custodian Pty Ltd
The Board agreed to seek nominations for the vacant volunteer director position of RSL Custodian from the wider membership and general community, rather than from RSL NSW directorship. An EOI process is to be conducted.
- Endorsed six Life Memberships for National approval
- Approved two Life Memberships to the auxiliary; and
- Endorsed one MSM for National approval
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION:
The Board received a brief from More Strategic on the fundraising landscape and opportunities for RSL NSW. The item was recommended to the Board by the Interim Fundraising Committee. The Board noted the opportunities associated with bequests and grant funding, and the relative importance of brand recognition to be gained through general community fundraising. It further noted the intent to develop a Fundraising Strategy. The Board further discussed RSL NSW seeking DGR and PBI status.
MATTERS FOR NOTING:
Related Entity and Committee Matters
Audit & Risk Committee
The Board noted the Report and approved:
- Quarterly Risk Report
- Quarterly WHS Report
Joint Steering Committee
The Board noted the status of the opportunity to co-locate the future ANZAC House with other ESO HQs, notably Legacy and War Widows NSW, along with a veterans’ hub at a CBD property owned, through their trustees, by a sub-Branch.
Veteran Services & Policy Committee
The Board noted the update, particularly the impressive performance (with improved reporting) of services delivered by RSL LifeCare Veteran Services which is also available on the RSL NSW website. Also, the updates on the Royal Commission and other important advocacy around veterans’ legislation harmonisation and the future of ATDP. Young Veterans’ Committee
The Report was received, and noted the importance of continuing with Strategic Plan implementations that is having an impact in younger veterans engaging with and joining the RSL such as the Sport and Recreation Program.
Nominations, Remuneration and Performance Committee
The Board noted the update, including performance against KPI.
Congress Agenda Committee
The Board noted the outcomes, 16 motions for the AGM, although one was subject to further review because of concerns it may not be legally permissible.
ANZAC House Trust
The Board noted the Minutes.
Sub-Branch and Member Matters
The Board noted the matters approved under CEO delegation.
The Board agreed to the recommendation to cancel a member’s membership, under the findings of the Tribunal. The Board noted a review of the Tribunal’s finding on one matter had been requested.
The Board suspended one referral to the Tribunal, pending a decision to be made by a sub-Branch.
Key Board Correspondence
Items of correspondence were discussed, noting actions that had been taken.
The next Board meeting is 21 September 2023.