Board Communiqué for 29 June 2023
The Board met in person at 8:30am for an in-camera session. The Board meeting with Secretariat commenced at 9.00 am. Due respects to the fallen by the President.
The President briefed the Board on his observations and extensive member feedback from phone calls and visits around the State. Areas of interest included:
- Thanked all members who are actively supporting veterans and their families and each other through camaraderie, commemoration, and support. Very pleased to see continuing increasing membership, and engagement where sub-Branches have made changes to routine to accommodate activities other than just camaraderie after a meeting, such as sport and recreation and activities involving families.
- Reported on recent meetings involving the Federal Minister’s staff and DVA Commissioner, Don Spinks.
- Attended the Singleton memorial service for the bus tragedy, the Australian Remembrance Foundation, and many funerals.
- Reported on ongoing concerns about lack of sub-Branch attendance at District Council meetings, viability of many sub-Branches which are not renewing membership, and the need to expedite reforms, including provision of the proposed “District Support Officers” under the Strategic Plan.
- Members continue to raise concerns about situations where Affiliate members can out-vote Service members regarding the expenditure of charitable funds and intends to speak to the DPC about this to gauge their views.
- Thanked sub-Branches and members who are actively supporting efforts to secure Federal Government support for proposed Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs. Finally, noted he will be attending the opening of new, temporary premises for Lismore RSL sub-Branch, made possible through the RSL NSW Disaster Relief Fund.
RSL Australia Ltd (National)
RSL Australia Director, Mr Bryan Slattery, provided a report to the Board.
The CEO’s report, including the CFO and Program Management Office (PMO) reports (Strategic Plan implementation), were discussed, and noted, as were issues and actions to be taken, including:
- Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs – Noted recent developments, including an invitation from DVA to RSL LifeCare/RSL NSW to submit a proposal for the Central Coast area, in addition to the current applications. Still waiting for a government decision on the other grant applications that have been made.
- Funding Model – New SOP1 communications due for release from 3 July, noting the drafts of communications materials including FAQs are still being assessed by sub-Branch representatives. Board noted the criticality of the Veteran Support Fund, to further demonstrate what the RSL stands for and does to support veterans and their families.
- Brand Association with RSL Clubs – The Board noted developments and the proposal to seek additional resources to implement the brand regularisation project through the budget.
- The Board noted the ANZAC House Staff Engagement Survey results and proposed actions.
- Custodian Reform – Not progressed due to competing priorities.
- Property – Noted progress with the need to find a site for the permanent location for ANZAC House. Also noted the very poor Return on Asset (ROA) on the wider (sub-Branch) property portfolio. This is to be further reviewed as some assets may be being directly utilised by veterans and veteran families in need of housing or respite support.
- Commemoration – Noted that the review of the Sydney CBD ANZAC Day march has not commenced, and that the Terms of Reference have yet to be settled. CEO to follow up with NSW Government regarding request for funding support for sub-Branches to assist in traffic control and HVM.
- Reveille – The Board noted the importance of retaining a printed version to keep the entire membership informed of critically important matters such as the work of the Veterans Services and Policy committee not just those members actively using email and internet. Accordingly, they further noted the need for sub-Branches to make contributions to the ongoing publishing of a printed Reveille, via the Veteran Support Fund.
- Incorporation – The Board noted the issues yet to be resolved identified by external legal counsel to enable a sub-Branch to incorporate as an Association. The Board further acknowledged the commencement of a new General Counsel (replacing ‘Head of Legal’) on 21 June, which will help address a backlog of matters requiring legal consideration
- Program Report – Progress with the implementation of the Strategic Plan was noted. See Dashboard (Insert link)
- ANZAC Day App – The CEO briefed on the status of this Congress action. The App is now an additional initiative in the Strategic Plan, so its development can be funded.
CFO Report and Business Performance Report
The Board noted and thanked staff for achieving a turnaround in the financial situation, with a forecast surplus for the FY, and the rebuilding of reserves to put the League’s State Branch in a strong position going forward.
The Board noted the good return on the investment portfolio managed by Morgan Stanley.
With the interim (committee) approval of the Development Application (DA) by the City of Sydney on 22 June, the sale of the Hyde Park Inn reached a critical milestone. The 2024 settlement will include the predicted financial uplift to the base contract sale price because of the outcomes from the DA. Subject to commercial matters, all details will be provided at Congress.
The Board noted the lift in membership (approximately 220 per month) and dashboards regarding veteran services.
MATTERS FOR DECISION:
Budget – Noting the stronger financial position of ANZAC House, the Board approved a budget deficit for FY24 to enable ANZAC House to employ five critical roles to support sub-Branches and address ANZAC House’s critical needs. The Board noted that there was a risk to a number of assumed revenue streams in the budget that if not achieved may require consideration of prioritisation and phased engagement of the five staff.
Details will be provided on the website when role definitions are settled.
Related Entity and Committee Matters
Nom, Rem & Performance – Corporate Objectives for FY 24 were agreed and are to be reviewed in conjunction with appointment of new CEO. It was noted that the CEO has not had a remuneration change for two years, and this would not change for FY 24 either because of current recruitment process.
Selections Committee – Four Life Memberships were recommended for National approval, and one Merit Award.
RSL LifeCare – An amended Charter for the Quarterly Member meeting, or “Joint Working Group” was approved.
Approval to incorporate – The Board considered a late paper, for a sub-Branch to incorporate per SOP13. A decision was deferred until the sub-Branch could meet all the requirements stipulated in SOP13, including the need to determine the fair value of all property by obtaining a property valuation. The Board reiterated the requirement to provide all support possible to assist the sub-Branch, including an example of a meeting paper that details all factors that need to be understood when deciding to incorporate, that must be included with a Notice of Meeting, so all members of the sub-Branch (not just members attending a meeting) have considered the proposal in detail.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION:
Rotation of Elected Members – The Board noted a paper about the option to ameliorate the risk of 80% director change every three years. It was decided to seek Delegates views at Congress on several options to stagger the elected Service Member’s over a three-year period to alleviate this risk.
RSL LifeCare report – The Board noted the Veteran Services Report, and the capability to provide ‘dashboard’ reports to RSL NSW Districts.
Last Post – First Nation inclusion project – The Board decided to seek DPC input before settling a decision on whether RSL NSW endorses a public position on a revised rendition of the Last Post featuring a didgeridoo, due for release later in the year. This is a RSL and Services Clubs Association initiative.
MATTERS FOR NOTING:
Audit and Risk Committee – The Board noted the Minutes, particularly the adoption of the Business Continuity Plans, and current uplift in returns on investment under the current Investment Policy.
Veteran Services & Policy Committee – Minutes noted, and action to be taken to further promote the work oversighted by this Committee to the wider membership, such as the advocacy to address government policy impacts on veterans, such as the RSL submission on the proposal to harmonise veterans entitlements legislation, improvements to the structure of military advocacy, and critically, submissions to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide that are not often included or discussed at sub-Branch or District Council meetings.
Nom, Rem, and Performance – Remuneration adjustments determined by the Committee were noted, which included FY 23 performance review.
The board was briefed on the progress of the CEO Recruitment.
Young Veterans Committee – Minutes noted, and acknowledged work being considered to refer to the board about key priorities impacting younger generations of veterans.
Interim Fundraising Committee – The Chair reported that a report will be provided at the August meeting with recommendations based upon ROI on various options for fundraising, and the subsequent approval of strategy and plan.
ANZAC House Trust – Minutes noted, including the Board of Management’s decision regarding participation in the potential development of a CBD property for a future location for ANZAC House.
Sub-Branch and Member Matters – Matters approved under CEO delegation were noted.
Tribunal Matters – Updates noted.
District Presidents’ Council Report and Minutes – Noted, and noted actions taken on recommendations being provided back to DPC on 30 June, including providing ‘dictation’ for Circulars etc for those who have difficulty reading, and a ‘District’ portal.
Key Board Correspondence
Items of correspondence were discussed, noting actions that had been taken.
The next Board meeting is 24 August 2023.