Board Communiqué for 28 April 2022

The Board met via Microsoft Teams for the Board meeting commencing at 9:00am. Due respects were made to the fallen and an Acknowledgment of Country was delivered by the Chair.

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:

Sub-Branch and District Councils

  • The President attended 8 District Council and 10 Sub-Branch meetings and functions where he provided updates/ commentary on:
    – the Strategic Plan – Despite a few standouts most members are in agreement with the goals of the Strategic Plan but would benefit from further education about the Plan. The Board agreed that Directors and others now – need to ‘Champion’ the Plan.
    – RSL NSW declining membership – suggestion that new members would benefit from an ‘Induction’ style program/ package, particularly when they join online. Also, a central point of contact for those that join online would be beneficial if they have any issues.
    – RSL NSW challenges for the future.
  • Spoke to smaller sub-Branch Executives about consideration being given to becoming Chapters of larger neighbouring sub-Branches.
  • The President noted an increase in interest from sub-Branches in the Morgan Stanley Investment product. He also noted some confusion about the role of RSL Custodian and its Trustee duties and how it can help sub-Branches. The Board discussed how to better communicate that RSL Custodian and RSL NSW do not derive a benefit from the investment decisions of the sub-Branch if they choose to invest with Morgan Stanley.
  • The President was made aware of nine new Auxiliaries. He noted that some sub-Branches are still unaware that the Auxiliaries are part of the sub-Branch and must not have separate bank accounts. The Board noted the need to ensure sub-Branches and Auxiliaries understand their roles.

Ministerial/Governor Meeting

  • Meetings with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, NSW Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Shadow NSW Spokesperson for Veterans. These discussions covered the current and future Veteran Well-Being Centres (VWC) and how both Federal and State Governments could support these centres and the veteran community. Sub-Branches are being proactive in engaging their local members to they are aware of the need for VWCs.

Other Meetings

  • Attended Hearing Block 3 of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide in Sydney.
  • Attended the Nowra Veteran Well-Being Centre official turning of the soil ceremony with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Local MPs, ADF representatives and others including RSL DefenceCare, RSL LifeCare representatives, other ESOs and sub-Branch members from the surrounding area.
  • Attended the official opening of the Riverina Veteran Well-being Centre with the Federal MP, the Chair of RSL LifeCare, sub-Branch members, Representatives from the ADF and others from the surrounding area.

RSL National

  • Nomination of two candidates for the RSL Australia President. Greg Melick (Current President) and Tony Ferris (Former President RSL QLD) both presented to the Board during the meeting about their credentials to be elected the next RSL Australia President later in 2022.
  • Royal Commission – Defence and Veteran Suicide.
    – RSL has been invited by the Royal Commission to be part of a RC Stakeholder Reference Group which will have its first meeting on 11 May 22 in Canberra.
    – RSL NSW Policy & Advocacy Officer Isaac Ohlin has been supporting RSL Australia by monitoring & summarising the Royal Commission Hearing Blocks.
    – CEO RSL Australia & Isaac Ohlin will represent RSL at the RC Stakeholder Reference Group. Isaac Ohlin is organising the internal RSL consultation and developing the RSL brief paper for CEO RSL Australia.
  • National Gender Working Group has now met twice with RSL NSW Director Louise Sullivan as the representative. A key discussion has been on the issue of setting gender targets for Boards – 40/40/20.

CEO’s Report

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

  • The PMO is up and running in ANZAC House and working on three key project areas to help deliver on the Strategic Plan.
    – Project Manager for Services & Strategic Advocacy commenced in Mar 22
    – Project Manager for Engagement and Membership commenced in Apr 22
    – Recruitment of an Internal Communications specialist is in final stages
    – Recruitment of Project Manager for Business Model ongoing
    – An external consultant commenced in Apr 22 to develop the Written Directions Framework.
  • Veteran Well Being Centres (VWC) – Both sides of Government in the lead up to the Federal Election have given firm commitments to fund an expansion of VWC. The Board discussed strategies for continuing to engage with Government to ensure that RSL NSW and RSL Australia are given the lead role on new VWCs, and to seek funding of ongoing operating costs of VWCs.
  • Pooled Funding Model – Morgan Stanley delivered its first Quarterly Market Update for Sub-Branches on 1 Apr 22. Morgan Stanley continues to visit interested Sub-Branches with interest growing. Morgan Stanley is available to brief any interested sub-Branch on request.
  • District Rationalisation – An options paper is being presented to the next meeting of the Steering Committee on 9 May 22. An offer has been made to a candidate for the pilot District Support Coordinator position.
  • New ANZAC House – A Joint Steering Committee RSL NSW, Combined Services Sub-Branch, and ANZAC House Trust will be reconvened on 19 May 2022. CEO Legacy Club Services and CEO War Widows have been invited to join the committee to explore options to co-locate.
  • MOU with RSL & Services Clubs Association and Clubs NSW – Meeting held on 20 Apr 22 to review latest draft of MOU. First time for Clubs NSW to review the MOU in detail. Very positive meeting and all parties agreed to meet again in mid-May to try and finalise the MOU prior to seeking sign off from respective Boards.

Sub-Branch and Member Matters

  • Work Health and Safety Policy – Clayton Utz provided legal advice to the Board on its WHS obligations with regards to Sub-Branches. A consultant has been engaged as part of the Strategic Plan to develop a ‘Written Directives Framework’, which will provide the structure for the development of all RSL NSW Policies and SOP’s. WHS will be considered as part of the framework.
  • Charitable Purpose and Donations Policy – discussion paper is out with the District Councils for comment and feedback by mid Jul 22.
  • CFO Report and Business Performance Report – The Board noted the report, and the need to monitor the cash position and the use of cash reserves until sub-Branch contributions to the Veteran Support Fund increase.
  • The sale of the HPI is progressing with the next option fee due in Dec 22.
  • The Board endorsed the Budget Assumptions for the FY 2022/2023 Budget endorsing an in principle deficit budget.
  • Potential options for increasing other revenue streams were discussed such as:
    – Bequest Strategy
    – Fundraising campaigns– including Digital
    – Corporate Sponsorship.
  • The Board approved the updated Investment Statement and noted the latest Investment Market Update from Morgan Stanley.
  • ANZAC House Staffing – The recruitment process for Head of Legal is continuing within a very competitive market.
  • Incorporation Options for Moving Forward and SOP – Proposed changes to RSL NSW Act to enable sub-Branches with real property seeking to incorporate to be exempt from Stamp Duty, and any changes to regulations that might assist greater support for veteran initiatives are now with the Minister and a note to Cabinet has been prepared. The brief aims to have the issue resolved by 30 June 2022.The Board noted the revised sub-Branch Options for Incorporation SOP with annexures will be sent to the DPC for endorsement.
  • AGM Voting feasibility plan – The Board approved the use of a ‘hybrid voting system’ for the 2022 Congress. The system will provide an easy-to-use electronic voting system that supports real-time voting for those at the venue and those delegates joining the AGM remotely.
  • Sub-Branch Matters – The Board noted all the matters approved under delegation, noting concerns that some sub-Branches are not adhering to the Constitution regarding expenditures and property transactions. ANZAC House will provide additional support to sub-Branches to ensure compliance, noting that this was a major area of concern raised through the Bergin Inquiry. The Board also approved the Estonian sub-Branch wind-up matter to be referred to the RSL NSW Tribunal to remove their Charter as an administrative solution to close the sub-Branch.


Committee Reports

  • Audit and Risk Committee – The Board noted the report provided by the Acting Chair and CFO
  • Nominations Remuneration and Performance Committee – The Board noted the report and approved the changes to staff remuneration as recommended.
  • Veterans Services and Policy Committee –The Board noted the report and asked that work be progressed in putting in place a more formal agreement between RSL NSW and RSL Lifecare – Veteran Services around the running of the Veteran Well Being Centres. Co-Branding of RSL NSW & RSL Lifecare funded VWC was raised again, and further work is required at the executive level to find a solution.
  • Young Veterans Committee – The Board noted the report and the resignation of two members of the Committee and will await recommendations for the Committee on replacing those members.
  • Selections Committee – The Board noted the report and approved the recommendation for 4 x new Life Members to got to RSL Australia for approval and approved one 75 Year Award.


Tribunal Matters

The Board noted the Register of Matters before the RSL NSW Tribunal and resolved to give effect to a Disciplinary Recommendation received from the Tribunal.