CHAMPION COLUMN | RSL brings back sausage sizzles

COLUMNIST: James Brown, president of the NSW RSL. Picture: Janie Barrett
COLUMNIST: James Brown, president of the NSW RSL. Picture: Janie Barrett

All RSL NSW sub-branches can now apply to hold sausage sizzles, cake stalls, meat raffles, trivia nights and auctions to raise funds for veterans' families in need after RSL NSW lifted its two-year ban.

Fundraising by sub-branches was suspended in 2017 because of concerns about compliance failures that could have exposed possibly hundreds of volunteers to legal penalties.

The Bergin Inquiry showed we had a problem with fundraising compliance.

Restrictions on fundraising were needed to protect our local volunteers from unintentionally breaching the law and risking hefty fines or criminal penalties. Sub-branches can now apply to Fair Trading to get back to the normal business of raising funds for veterans and their families. It's welcome news to thousands of volunteers across the state.

RSL NSW has developed information to help sub-branches navigate their way through fundraising and discussed with regulators how to smooth the way.

Lifting the ban is part of sweeping RSL NSW reforms to help restore community trust in the veterans' charity, including a new draft constitution just released to district councils for consultation.

In the past two years, we've taken big steps to fix RSL NSW, which today is an entirely different organisation with professional staff, better processes and strong finance systems. Today, we're focused on our mission of helping veterans and their families in need.

Other reforms include appointing two independent directors to the board, reinstituting a members' tribunal to hear disciplinary matters and rolling out new procedures to sub-branches on managing property and assets, holding ceremonies and administration.

The board is drawing a line under the organisation's troubled past and creating a stronger RSL NSW for today and the future.

JAMES BROWN, President, rslnsw.org.au

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