RSL fundraising back on as draft Constitution released

RSL NSW sub-branches are breathing a collective sigh of relief today with the news the two-year ban on local fundraising has been lifted.

Nambucca Heads RSL sub-branch president Mick Birtles said the relief was however still tinged with the ill-feeling that saw branches suffer as a result of illegal activity at the state branch level.

"The ban was not the result of any action by any of the sub-branches and that did not sit well with any of us, especially those smaller branches," Mick said.

"We were okay here in the valley but there were some smaller branches who were coming close to their limit of survival."

He said shire residents could now expect to see sub-branch and auxiliary members back on the streets, selling raffle tickets and badges and organising fundraising events.

RSL NSW president James Brown said fundraising by sub-branches was suspended in August 2017 amid concerns compliance failures could expose potentially hundreds of volunteers to penalties under the law.

"The restriction on fundraising was necessary to protect our hardworking local volunteers from unintentionally breaching the law and risking hefty fines or, in the worst case, a criminal penalty.

"We proposed governance changes in 2018 which would have reduced these risks, but they were not acceptable to members. Now we have alerted our members to possible compliance issues and are providing them with guidance to better manage their fundraising at the local level.

"Sub-branches can now apply to the NSW Department of Fair Trading to get back to the normal business of raising funds for veterans and their families. That will be welcome news to thousands of volunteers across the state."

Lifting the ban is part of sweeping reforms RSL NSW is undertaking to help restore community trust in the iconic veterans' charity, including a new draft Constitution which was released today to District Councils for consultation.

"In the past two years, we've taken enormous steps to fix RSL NSW, which today is an entirely different organisation with professional staff, better governance processes and strong finance systems," Mr Brown said.

"With all of these reforms, the board wishes to draw a line under the organisation's troubled past and create a stronger RSL NSW which is fit for today and the future."

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