Board Communiqué for 25 August 2022

The Board met via video conference commencing at 8:30am. Due respect to the fallen were made by the President. 

President’s Report  

The President briefed the Board on his observations and extensive member feedback from phone calls and visits around the State.  Areas of interest included: 

  • Concerns about District Councils  accessing to sub-Branch information from SBAs that are electronically submitted.  ANZAC House is working on the next phase of the ‘sub-Branch Portal’ roll-out to make sure authorised personnel can access the required information. 
  • Positive feedback about ANZAC House Support Team’s visits to sub-Branch and DCs to assist volunteer office holders and benefits noted of the proposed District Support Coordinator role, although still early in the trial. 
  • A greater understanding amongst members of the RSL NSW Strategic Plan and outcomes as initiatives are delivered, and the positive response he has received to the recent workshop to address members’ concerns with the Discussion Paper about Charitable Purpose and the new Veteran Support Fund SOP.  The Board noted the intent to provide the DPC with a revised new draft SOP1 by 15 September. 
  • Concerns that new members (over 1500 in the previous three months) recruited under new membership system are not engaging effectively with sub-Branches after attending just one meeting.  As per the research underpinning the Strategic Plan, younger veterans don’t want to attend meetings, and hence change is needed to retain members, and importantly, have them volunteer for support and committee roles. The Board noted the plan to launch ‘recruitment kits’ and new member ‘welcome packs’ to sub-Branches under the Strategic Plan to coincide with Congress, and agreed that Congress is best format to receive further member feedback on this critical issue. 
  • The Board agreed to the proposal to lobby the State Government, with respect to retail trading hours, to make ANZAC Day a ‘full holiday,’ to ensure veterans and their families associated with work in that sector can fully participate in this important commemorative day. 

RSL National 

Prominent has been the RSL’s national response to the Interim Report from the Royal Commission into Veteran and Defence Suicide, and the importance of acknowledging ongoing efforts by all sub-Branches to effectively support veterans and their families.  An RSL organised forum, inviting all ESOs to participate, is being planned for November, so the sector can collectively agree on ways to respond to the initial findings and proactively respond to other matters that have been raised.  

CEO’s Report  

The CEO’s report including the Program Management (PMO) (Strategic Plan implementation) report (updated on website) and operational reports were discussed, as were issues and actions to be taken, including: 

  • Veteran Well Being Centres (VWC).  The Board noted the new Government’s name change to ‘Veteran and Family Hubs’ and the preparedness of RSL NSW (all sub-Branches) and partner RSL LifeCare Ltd to respond to looming requests for EOI or tender.  The RSL’s ‘hub and spoke’ model already delivered in Nowra and Wagga is working well as associated sub-Branches start to action their important role per the Strategic Plan.  
  • RSL Australia (National) Director.  The Board noted the resignation of Mr Ray James from the Board of RSL Australia and agreed to nominate Mr Bryan Slattery as NSW’s nominee Director on the Board of RSL Australia, for a period of 12 months.  This decision was taken to address the ongoing conflict of interest issues for Presidents of RSL State Branches  who are Directors of RSL Australia, meaning that they must act in the best interests of both RSL Australia and their RSL State Branch , which are not always aligned. Other states have already taken similar action, nominating members other than their State Presidents or Board Directors to be their representatives on the RSL Australia Board.  
  • RSL Qld Art Union. The Board agreed to accept RSL Queensland’s invitation to discuss support opportunities for RSL NSW using funding from the RSL QLD Art Union. Mr James and Jon Black will lead those discussions.  
  • Code of Conduct. The Board noted the District Presidents’ Council’s final input and approved the Code of Conduct, as per the Strategic Plan.  This will be released and widely distributed with contextual information to inform members.  The Board agreed that the question of whether the Code of Conduct will form the basis of a sub-Branch level disciplinary process is a matter for members consideration at Congress. 
  • District Rationalisation.  The Board received the report from the Steering Committee and agreed with the recommendation to consult with members on the implementation process, before commencing implementation.  This will be briefed in detail at Congress, and feedback sought.   
  • New ANZAC House.  The Board noted the progress update on finding a permanent location. 
  • SOP 13 sub-Branch Incorporation. After acknowledging the DPC’s approval, the Board formally approved the SOP to enable sub-Branches to incorporate.  The Board had previously approved the model constitution to be used by sub-Branches choosing to incorporate.  Further details will be sent to sub-Branches in separate communications. 
  • Reveille and Media.  The Board noted the member and veteran feedback on the survey, including the high level of support for Reveille’s revised format and content.  The 10 major member themes and ideas for content will be incorporated as the magazine develops.  The Board congratulated the editor for the magazine being a finalist in this year’s Mumbrella Awards.  The Board also noted the media report and significant increase in volume of positive media over last 12 months. 
  • Australian Legion. The Board agreed to the recommendation for the Australian Legion (NSW Branch) to merge with RSL NSW through a Transfer Agreement, with effect from 27 September 2022.  Legion sub-Branches, where agreed, will become Chapters of RSL sub-Branches as follows:  
    • Coogee Legion Chapter – to Coogee/Randwick/Clovelly RSL sub-Branch 
    • Cootamundra Legion Chapter – to Cootamundra RSL sub-Branch 
    • Riverwood Legion Chapter – to Penshurst RSL sub-Branch 
    • Willoughby Legion Chapter – to Chatswood RSL sub-Branch 
    • Orange Legion Chapter – to Orange RSL sub-Branch 
    • Eastern Suburbs Legion Chapter – to Bondi Junction/Waverly sub- Branch
  • CFO Report and Business Performance Report – The Board noted the report, and the need to continue to monitor the cash position and the use of cash reserves until sub-Branch contributions to the Veteran Support Fund (President’s Shield and Strategic Plan options in particular) increase or other revenue streams are found. The Board noted that sub-Branches are still not aware of the Veteran Support Fund process and will not be fully aware until the new SOP 1 is approved.  The Board further noted the transparency associated with reporting donations by sub-Branches on the website, such as the Support and Assistance fund and other Veteran Support Fund Initiatives. 

The Board will convene in late September to consider and approve the Annual Financial Statements for FY 21/22.  These will be made available on the website as soon as practicably possible afterwards and presented at Congress.  

  • MOU with ClubsNSW and RSL & Services Clubs Association.  The MOU (Per Strategic Plan) will be signed by all parties on Monday, 29 August.  It provides a framework where working groups will aim to implement agreed initiatives.  It recognises the critically important relationship between sub-Branches and clubs, and the important role clubs play in their local communities, and support to veterans and their families directly through funding and support to associated sub-Branches.  It will be released on the RSL NSW website as soon as it is signed.  

Sub-Branch and Member Matters 

  • RSL Youth Clubs.  The Board agreed to a consultative process about the future of RSL Youth Clubs with sub-Branches with RSL Youth Club relationships.  While the Board acknowledges the historical connection to Youth Clubs, they recognised their duty to ensure alignment with the new Constitution.  All sub-Branches with a Youth Club relationship will be invited to join the consultative process.  
  • Congress.  The Board endorsed the plans for Congress 2022 and agreed to appoint the State Secretary as Returning Officer, close registrations at 5 pm Tuesday 4 October, and recommend to Delegates Congress in 2023 also be held in Newcastle. 
  • Constitutional Amendments.  The Board noted the upcoming Agenda Committee’s task as over 40 constitutional amendments were received from one District Council alone. Also, the Board approved 12 motions to be considered by the Congress Agenda Committee, including motions from the Veteran Services and Policy Committee. 

RSL LifeCare

The Board approved the appointment of a new director for RSL LifeCare, Mr Ewen Crouch.  The Board noted RSL LifeCare’s strategy adjustment as it related to Veteran Services and was pleased to note the intent to triple the services over the next three years.  

Related Entity and Committee Reports 

Young Veterans Committee

The Board considered several recommendations to improve recruitment and retention of younger veterans, noting the important reference to supporting older members and veterans.  The Board directed the recommendations be included in implementation of Strategic Plan Goal 3.  

  •  Gender Diversity Committee. (RSL National Committee). The Board noted the progress working on definitions and targets.
  • Nominations Remuneration & Performance FY 22/23 Corporate Objectives were approved.  This included demonstration on the level of support being provided by ANZAC House, and alignment to Charitable Purpose. 
  • Audit & Risk Committee.  The Board considered the report. The WH&S and Risk Reports were approved.  The Board commented on the risks associated with the current ratio, and certainty around cash reserves. 
  • Veteran Services and Policy Committee.  Significant progress has been made on initiatives to change government policy in support of veterans, with updates on motions, including those made from the membership and sub-Branches, provided on the RSL NSW website. 
  • Selections Committee. Five Life Memberships were recommended for National approval.  One Meritorious Service Medal, One Auxiliary Life Membership, one 75 yr Membership Certificate, and one 100-year sub-Branch Certificate for Lyndhurst sub-Branch were approved.  
  • Establishing a Fundraising Committee.  The Board agreed to a Charter for a fundraising committee, to be established in 2023.  Membership will include RSL NSW members and external experts.   

Tribunal Matters

The Board noted the Register of Matters before the RSL NSW Tribunal and agreed to revoke the Charter of the Estonian RSL sub-Branch. 

The Board considered an application from a former State Councillor, precluded from holding office by a Tribunal decision, to be allowed to re-stand for executive positions. The application was not supported, but the Board will re-consider in the future.  The Board asked the CEO to develop a process for re-instatement. 

The CEO was asked to seek more Tribunal Members. 

District Presidents’ Council  

The Board noted the Report and thanked the Council for summarising the feedback on the Discussion Paper on Charitable Purpose and subsequent support to run the workshop to progress this important matter.  

Correspondence and General Business 

The Board noted over 60 pieces of incoming correspondence and responses and considered several administrative matters.  

Sub-Branches’ combined donations of $3.1 m to RSL LifeCare Veteran Services (formally in part RSL DefenceCare) occurring on 29 August (for financial year 21/22) was highlighted and indicated the generosity of sub-Branches. Through this aggregation, the RSL in NSW can generate a greater level of awareness and impact across the wider community of what the RSL stands for and does to support veterans and their families.