RSL NSW is an organisation of nearly 50,000 members spread across 352 sub-branches so keeping lines of communication between sub-branches and the state executive flowing can be a complex business.
One of the mechanisms RSL NSW has in place to assist with this communication is through the use of district councils. In each of the 23 districts of NSW there is a council made up of representatives from RSL sub-branches from that district, these are known as the RSL district councils.
The purpose of each district council is to further the aims and objects of RSL NSW. Their reason-for-being is centred around providing support and encouragement to the sub-branches in the district and encouraging participation by the sub-branches and subsidiaries in district events and meetings; engaging with the community within the district and enhancing the standing of RSL NSW within the local community.
Sub-branches in our region form the North Coast district council. This forum is well attended by most sub-branches in the district, which takes in sub-branches as far North as Yamba, Dorrigo to the West and and far South as Kempsey.
The North Coast District Council President, Mr Don Robertson of South West Rocks, says the district council serves to keep sub-branches connected, allows them to learn from each other and ultimately grow and profit (metaphorically) through association.
President of the Bellinger River RSL Sub-Branch, Mr Rick Maunder, added the district councils provide an opportunity for interaction between Sub Branches that allow us to keep in touch and maintain an understanding of what each sub-branch is doing in their areas. His views were supported by Mr Stephen Walton, president of the Maclean sub-branch, who also sees the district councils as a body that is positioned to coordinate resources for the benefit of veterans.
I attend these forums in my capacity as secretary of the Nambucca Heads RSL Sub Branch and I agree with the above-mentioned sentiments of my colleagues and I would also add participation in this forum has broadened my understanding of issues facing veterans in rural areas.
As the majority of sub-branches in the region attend this monthly meeting I have also been able to gain an understanding of problems facing other sub-branches. Attendees are able to network and discuss problems they have in common or that their sub-branches have dealt with in the past.
In last years proposed RSL NSW Constitution it was evident the RSL NSW intended to drastically change the current system of 23 district councils and replace them with 11 regional representative councils.
It would appear the biggest change that such a move would bring about is, potentially, an increased role in decision making from the regions at the state level of the RSL and possible savings across the board through the conduct of a reduced number of councils.
These changes will of course be subject to a new constitution being voted in by members at the next RSL State Congress in May this year. Let’s hope the restructure of district councils into regional representative councils does not turn out to be a case of fixing something that is not broken and turning something useful into something not useful.
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